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King of the 









In tie Tfnlted State* of America 










BLEST 143 







THESE first lines are my preface. It is prob- 
ably not placed where authors usually 
place their prefaces, but I must confess that I 
mingled it in with the text so that the reader 
could recognize it and avoid it only with the 
greatest difficulty. The war introduced camou- 
flage into the matters of every day life. People 
very rarely read a preface ; they don't like to be 
warned ahead of time. Musset advised against 
reading "foolish prefaces." Critics are the only 
ones who read them, and then chiefly because it 
often enables them to dispense with reading the 
rest of the book. As far as I am concerned, how- 
ever, I have camouflaged my preface only so that 
the reader may know that this is not an official 


account of the King's journey to the United 
States, but the independent and personal obser- 
vations of a privileged individual, who, having 
the honor of accompanying his sovereign over 
there, jotted down in these pages his impressions 
and souvenirs of the trip. 

I must confess that two months ago I had not 
the slightest intention of writing this book. I 
thought I had satisfied my need for expression in 
newspaper articles and lectures. But as the days 
go by, souvenirs come back and more mature im- 
pressions are born again. 

The splendor of that journey still haunts my 
memory, like that shepherd in the Provencal 
legend who, after having looked too long at the 
sun, kept some of its light in his eyes. My ears 
still have the echo of a great applause. 

I shall endeavor therefore to bring back some 
image of all this by noting day by day from the 
very beginning the impressions and observations 
made on His Majesty's trip through the great 
American Republic. 

I had just boarded the "George Washington.' 9 
The huge ship sent over by the American govern- 
ment to convey the King to the United States 


was swaying in the middle of the Channel near 
Calais, between France and England. She drew 
so much water that she could not come any 
nearer to either coast The boat had been fitted 
up in a manner worthy of the great persons she 
was going to receive ; she was all ready, with her 
decks waxed, her brass glittering and her pen- 
ants flying in the breeze. 

Everybody was waiting for the King, the cap- 
tain, the crew and my humble self. There was 
also on the deck a dignified, silent individual, 
faultlessly buttoned up in his jacket, an im- 
portant personage, apparently. His whiskers 
and hard protruding chin marked him as a per- 
fect type of Yankee, doubtless some emissary 
from the American government. As I speak Eng- 
lish atrociously and had some doubts on that 
subject for the future, I decided that it was a 
good opportunity to make a beginning and be- 
come familiar with the language. I prepared my 
sentence with great care and approached this im- 
posing official. 

"Excuse me, sir. Perhaps you are waiting 
too for the King of Belgium." 

The man looked at me. He did not seem to 
have understood. It was my pronunciation, of 


course. I repeated the question more distinctly. 

"Hein?" he said. 

"Oh, I beg your pardon, sir," I continued in 
French. "I did not know you spoke both lan- 
guages. You are also waiting for the King, are 
you not?" 

"Yes, sir. I am waiting for His Majesty. I 
am his valet!" 

The condescension and haughtiness of that re- 
mark ! You are also waiting for the King, I had 
said. That "also" was so candid. . . . You see 
the difference between the emotions with which 
the man who gets out His Majesty's bedroom slip- 
pers was waiting and those of a useless mortal 
like myself. 

Still, my meeting with this valet gave me the 
idea of undertaking a secret exploration through 
the apartments destined for Their Majesties. I 
went hurriedly down into the heart of the ship. 
How elegant and luxurious was the suite which 
had been decorated for royalty! It consisted 
first of a private salon and dining-room. In the 
salon were musical instruments, books and por- 
traits by American artists. Opposite the King's 
bedroom was a study where, among other ap- 
paratus created by American ingenuity, I noticed 


a wireless telephone which carried three hun- 
dred miles. 

The Queen's apartment was more coquettish. 
There was a bedroom with mahogany wainscot- 
ing upholstered in old rose. All the furniture 
was of mahogany. There was also a pretty 
boudoir with furniture covered with red flowered 
tapestry. On the tables were electric lamps with 
shades decorated with painted flowers and 
branches. Among the masses of fresh flowers I 
noticed a special preponderance of red dahlias, 
particularly popular in America. The suite pre- 
pared for Prince Leopold was also charming and 
was finished in lemon-wood. 

Suddenly, however, I was interrupted in my 
investigations by the terrible roar of a cannon 
which shook the huge hull of the ship. All 
around me people were shouting and cheering. 
Officers were dashing through the passages and 
sailors bumped against each other on the stairs. 
What was the matter? A few months ago it 
would have meant that an enemy submarine was 
insight. , , 

I went up on deck in haste. All the crew was 
lined up for dress parade; the gunners were at 
their places. The gun that had just gone off was 


smoking slightly. Over the bridge leaned the 
captain, studying the horizon through his field- 
glasses. I also looked in the same direction and 
saw three ships appearing from the direction of 
Ostende. They were the American destroyers 
bringing the King and Queen and Prince Leo- 
pold. Like real ocean greyhounds they bounded 
over the waves and sped towards us in a puff of 
smoke. They reached us and came up alongside 
of the vessel. As the King boarded the "George 
Washington" all of the guns were shot off simul- 
taneously and their thunder went rolling to- 
wards the cliffs of Calais. 

The King and Queen and Prince Leopold im- 
mediately went to their rooms and the tumult 
gave way to absolute silence. The crew closed 
the port-holes, muzzled the guns and lowered the 
flags. The three destroyers which had brought 
the royal guests surrounded the "George Wash- 
ington. " Suddenly the ship's siren blew a tre- 
mendous blast; the rigging vibrated and great 
clouds of black smoke poured forth from the 
stacks. With the grating of the windlass the an- 
chors were dragged up from the sand to which 
they clung, and slowly, without a jar, like a train 
which pulls smoothly out of a station, the vessel 


glided out on the huge ocean. We were off! 
Calais faded from view in the distant fog and 
soon disappeared entirely, while the coast of 
England became clearer and clearer with its 
cliffs gilded by the rays of the sun. Neverthe- 
less, when the royal passengers came up on deck 
after a six o'clock dinner, land was no longer in 
sight. The ship had left the neck of the channel 
and was speedily plowing the first waters of the 
Atlantic. We were to stay on that immense 
ocean for nine days. Nine successive times 
would the sun sparkle and become extinguished 
on the gray uniformity of that moving landscape. 

As soon as he was on board the "George Wash- 
ington," the King had the Belgian reporters who 
were accompanying him on the trip presented to 
him. I shall give a description of that interview 
in order to reveal some of the traits of His 
Majesty's character. Leaning with his back 
against the railing with his hands in his pockets, 
the King talked good-naturedly for a long while, 
warning his interrogators to give no official in- 
terpretation to his statements. He led the con- 
versation to different subjects without any pre- 
conceived idea, but outlined in particular the 


aim of his trip to the United States, which was 
to bind more solidly than ever the friendly rela- 
tions between that country and Belgium. 

Changing to another subject, he praised the ad- 
vantages of sports in the physical development 
of youth. "In the American colleges and uni- 
versities," he said, "sport is perfectly reconciled 
to study. We should imitate that. Look at the 
healthy development of our young men who came 
back from the trenches. These youths have also 
gained morally. Their characters are more 
serious, their souls deeper." 

As somebody remarked here that some young 
men had come back from the war with a crav- 
ing for adventure which interfered with their 
desire for routine work, His Majesty answered: 
"Our Congo needs just such young men. Let 
them go there and carry with them their energy 
and initiative." 

King Albert has made a special study of the 
living conditions in our great African colony. 
He is perfectly familiar with the climate and its 
dangers, but knows, however, the way in which 
to protect one's self. One can judge by this re- 
partie : "Malaria and other illnesses of that coun- 


try are easily cured to-day if they are treated 
in time." 

"But the fevers which are so deadly, Sire, how 
can one protect one's self against them?" 

"By a daily dose of quinine and an upright 
conduct." That was His Majesty's answer. 

As has often been said before, the King ex- 
presses himself with great deliberation, but his 
choice of words is extremely judicious. He 
knows the proper word; his sentences are so 
regularly constructed that they could be written 
as well as spoken. One is aware of a remarkable 
power of attention on the part of our Sovereign. 
Whether he is talking with two or with ten peo- 
ple, he follows each individual's opinions care- 
fully and discerns their exact shades. He looks 
at the speaker with his blue eyes in a way which 
is singularly keen and penetrating without being 
aggressive. As his conversation shows great eru- 
dition, the conclusions which he draws reveal 
uncommon intellectual power. 

The life of the royal guests on board the 
"George Washington" was simple and quiet. The 
captain of the ship had attached a gunner of the 
marines to the King's person as well as to that of 


the Queen and Prince. These marines were or- 
dered to follow the august passengers wherever 
they went, keeping five feet behind them. The 
very first hour the King asked to be freed from 
this pomp which was doubtless very ornamental 
but entirely superfluous to a sovereign who has 
not the traits of a Hoheiizollern. The Queen ex- 
pressed the same desire. As for the Prince, 
whom we wanted to nickname the little Prince 
of Melancholy, he hardly seemed to have noticed 
the man who silently dogged his footsteps. 

The King wore the undress uniform of a gen- 
eral. No braid, no trimmings distinguished him 
from the officers of his suite. This simplicity 
of appearance delighted the American officers, 
who also admired his fine physique. For it must 
be said that one of the reasons, doubtless second- 
ary but nevertheless powerful, for the popular- 
ity which immediately surrounded our King, was 
his nobility of bearing, physical comeliness, 
and hardy complexion. With the Americans 
who are rather naive and even primitive in cer- 
tain respects, the external appearance of a man 
has an extraordinary influence on the prestige 
which he command. Indications of this were 
found everywhere in the newspapers which 


took pleasure in describing the King's appear- 
ance, and especially in their exclamations. How 
many times as the King passed by did I hear the 
words : "What a fine-looking man !" 

When the King was not reading, he would 
walk about the deck, wandering here and there 
like a mere idler, stopping to talk to anybody he 
happened to meet, whether officer or plain sailor. 
He frequently walked up and down alone, being 
fond of solitude. A dreamer by nature, one often 
saw him leaning against the railing where he 
would remain for a time gazing off into space. 

What was he thinking of in these moments? 
Perhaps of the great glory which was waiting 
for him over there, of the triumphal reception 
which the American people were preparing for 
him, rumors of which reached us every day by 
wireless. Perhaps he was simply delighted by 
the great expanse stretched out before his gaze, 
in the face of that horizon which, in spite of 
the course of the ship, still remained as far away 
as ever. This King, in spite of his extraordinary 
moral greatness, may perhaps have felt infinitesi- 
mally small on this moving abyss, this gigantic 
globe, unless, indeed, this globe on which we 
were revolving so rapidly that we caught up with 


the course of the sun did not seem small to him. 
We had to set our watches back a whole half hour 
every morning. We had only been gone three 
days. At the time of which I am thinking it was 
five o'clock in the afternoon and the sun was 
beating down upon the ocean, while over there in 
Europe where it was after seven, night had en- 
circled everything. 

As we went forward, it grew warmer and 
warmer. We were thus catching up with sum- 
mer. Having left the continent in the first chills 
of our autumn, we were to arrive in the United 
States during the hot season. The King was very 
probably thinking how small the globe was, un- 
less . . . But I must stop. Is it not bold and 
irreverent to try to guess the private thoughts 
of a King who is dreaming while leaning against 
the railing of a ship? 

The simplicity of dress which the American 
officers admired in our King was also apparent 
in the Queen. She always appeared dressed in 
white, wearing a woolen gown in the morning 
and a silk one in the evening. Her manner was 
always charming and unaffected. She smiled 
amiably at all whose glance met hers. It was 
Queen Elizabeth's smile that won the hearts of 


the huge American crowds later. It became 
famous. All the newspapers talked of it. Some 
called it stereotyped, but they judged it prob- 
ably by different photographs which appeared in 
magazines and newspapers. In a photograph, 
however, one's smile is always the same, it is con- 
gealed. Those, howevfer, who come near the 
Queen know its genuineness and the thousand 
shades of meaning w^hich she can express. I 
should endeavor to describe them if I were not 
certain that if it is irreverent to penetrate the 
intimate thoughts of a king, it is even less per- 
missible to analyze the smile of a queen. 

Queen Elizabeth showed a particular liking 
for the different games on board. Her skill at 
quoits was remarkable. It was a charming sight 
to see that little Queen, so light and slender in 
her white dress, clap her hands for joy over a 
successful shot. One day I turned to General 
Jacques, who was watching the scene with an 
amused air, and said to him : 

"Well, General, are you not going to play?" 
The hero of Dixmude answered me with one 
of those frank laughs which seem to come from 
his everlasting fount of gaiety : 


"What, I throw quoits! You do not really 
mean it! It would ruin my prestige." 

Prince Leopold did not care much for the 
games. He watched them at a distance with the 
air of sadness which I have already noted. lie is 
also a dreamer by nature like his father. Being 
rather tall for his eighteen years, he is at the 
awkward age at which a youth finds that it is 
difficult to know what to do with hands and feet. 
Timid by nature, he blushes easily. During 
audiences he observes his father's attitude atten- 
tively. He is visibly anxious to learn the busi- 
ness of being a king. He shows himself desirous 
of an intimate knowledge of all matters, He 
walked all over the ship, from bow to stern, pay- 
ing attention to everything with which he was 
unfamiliar. Although he had visited more than 
one steamer, he greatly admired the "George 

I have spoken of a floating city in talking of 
this ship. I will let the reader judge for him- 

In addition to a store where all articles neces- 
sary to the toilet are sold, together with accesso- 
ries such as cigars, cigarettes and candy, there 
are a tailor's shop on board, a laundry, a dental 


parlor, and a drug-store, next to which is a hospi- 
tal with a surgical room. Next to the post-office 
and the purser's office is the hairdresser's where 
three barbers are continually at work. Here, as 
everywhere, one is also struck with that regard 
for comfort which is one of the main traits of the 
American character. Lying rather than sitting 
in an armchair which resembles a bed more than 
a chair, one feels the razor stroke one's cheek 
with a gentleness entirely ignored by our Euro- 
pean barbers. But it is after this operation that 
the seance begins to be agreeable. After apply- 
ing a hot towel to your cheeks, the barber with 
his hands dripping with unctuous oil starts to 
massage your face, forehead, ears, nose, and neck, 
after which comes another massage with a second 
oiling, and then a third. Then he presses your 
neck, pinches your nostrils and boxes your 
cheeks, and everything is done with a rapidity 
which is so delightful that it seems like the vir- 
tuosity of an artist. One leaves the barber shop 
of the "George Washington" feeling better oiled 
and curled than Petronne when he left the hands 
of his masseurs. 

The passengers were very much delighted when 
they got out of bed in the morning to receive their 


morning paper. It was the ship's newspaper 
which came to us still damp from the press. This 
press provided the bills of fare, the programs of 
concerts and other entertainments, as well as the 
visiting-cards which were seen on the door of 
every cabin giving the names and titles of every- 
body on board from the King down. 

The paper, called "The Hatchet/' and having 
as its motto "I cannot tell a lie," gets its news 
by wireless and tells its readers what is hap- 
pening all over the world. The King and his 
suite were thus able to follow events in Belgium 
as well as in Italy. They read about d'Annunzio 
and Fiume, and the defeats of the Bolsheviks 
with the first rumors of the death of Lenine. 

Different subjects are also treated in "The 
Hatchet," literary, historical and philosophical. 
They gave me the honor of asking me to write 
an article. I wrote on the Belgian secret press, 
knowing that the Americans were very curious 
about the mystery of the newspapers which con- 
tinued to appear during the occupation. This 
article was so popular that I found it published 
in the newspapers on my arrival in New York. 

The American sense of humor is not lacking 
in the "Hatchet." Thus one finds oil the title- 


page this statement : "The largest circulation on 
the Atlantic Ocean." 

I wish to say a few words about the movies be- 
cause they made several hours of that long cross- 
ing pass very pleasantly. Every night after din- 
ner there was a moving-picture performance in 
the great hall of the "George Washington." It 
was strange to notice in these dramas and 
comedies certain American characteristics among 
which is a reverence for loyalty and integrity 
and at the same time a strong hatred of malice 
and lack of faith. The Americans especially ad- 
mire energy and strength of will. In their plays 
the hero is always a paragon of strength and in- 
tegrity. The actors make very few gestures, but 
their faces are full of expression. When I say 
few gestures, however, I am speaking, of course, 
of the dramas. Because when it is a question of 
comedy, Good Lord, what an avalanche of thrusts 
with swords and revolvers, shots, or kicks and 
attacks with teeth and fists! Americans are 
grown-up children; they laugh at an upset and 
certain drolleries even make them weep. 

The night the King came on board a film of 
great pathos was going on. The jealous lover 
was advancing cunningly towards his rival, re- 


volver in hand. The audience followed the scene, 
straining their necks forward, their eyes fixed on 
the screen. In order to intensify the emotion, a 
negro had been placed in the wings to fire off a 
pistol the moment the hero fired his. It hap- 
pened that the negro's pistol went off a few sec- 
onds before that of the hero. This incident, 
purely burlesque, which merely made us Euro- 
peans smile, created such hilarity that it 
drowned the orchestra, the noise of the ocean 
and the sound of the engines. If a steamer had 
crossed us at this moment, it would have heard 
the "George Washington" laughing! 

Jokes of the same sort are found in some of 
their plays. In one scene two actors were carry- 
ing on a serious conversation. All of a sudden, 
without any warning, one of the actors kicked 
the hat of his companion onto the floor. The 
companion made a face, a pirouette, and then as 
if nothing had happened, the play went solemnly 
on while the audience was choking and shaking 
with laughter. 

The King spent some mornings reviewing the 
crew of the "George Washington" and the Ameri- 
can troops which the ship was bringing home. 


The sailors would line up on the upper deck and 
the soldiers on the lower. The sailors' uniforms 
are very effective. This military mid-Atlantic 
review made by our King was a wonderful sight. 
While the strains of the Belgian national anthem 
went out to sea, the tall figure of the Sovereign 
dominated those lines of white caps among which 
he walked, his hand on his cap. 

After the review, the King and his suite were 
invited to visit the ship's machinery. We went 
down into that dungeon of fire and iron where 
the organs of the monster are hidden, penetrating 
into that formidable heart whose pulsations re- 
verberate through the structure like Wows from 
a hammer. We saw its gigantic lungs colossal 
pistons and its huge stomach a gaping fur- 
nace stoked by men with naked torsos. As we 
went down the circular staircase to the bottom 
of the funnel, we felt as if we were being trans- 
ported into one of those fantastic workshops 
described by Jules Verne in the "Cent Millions 
de la Begum." At the bottom of the abyss we 
found ourselves forty feet below sea level. The 
oppressive and burning atmosphere of the oil, 
the trepidation and uproar of the revolving 


cranks, enormous cylinders, gnawing gears, and 
roaring screws, made us flee from there as if it 
were the infernal regions. 

One evening the crew organized different 
games in honor of Prince Leopold obstacle 
races, sack races, wrestling and boxing matches. 
They were very successful. At the end the 
Prince gave prizes to the winners scarf pins, 
cigarette cases, and wrist watches. The King 
and Queen watched these games with interest. 
During the boxing matches, however, the Queen 
did not seem to appreciate that art of bruising 
the face. An expression of pity rather than en- 
joyment could be read on her face. 

Prince Leopold, on the other hand, did not 
miss a single phase of the fights. He confided to 
me that he had often practiced sports while at 
school at Eton. One night he heard a journalist 
boasting to one of his colleagues of being an ac- 
complished master in the art of pugilism. 

"If I do not give you a demonstration right 
away," the man concluded, "it is because I have 
not got my boxing-gloves with me." 

"You need not let that prevent you," inter- 
rupted the Prince. "Mine are in my cabin and I 
will willingly lend them to you." 


It was difficult to realize the muscular strength 
of that boy of eighteen whom at a distance one 
might consider undeveloped. Are you familiar 
with deck tennis which is played without a 
racket, with a big leather ball which you throw 
across the net in the hope that your adversary 
on account of its weight and impetus will be 
unable to hold it and will let it slip to the 
ground? His Highnesses fancy led him one day 
to choose me as his opponent in deck-tennis. In 
recalling that game I can still feel the sensa- 
tion of the shots which the so-called "Little 
Prince" hurled at my stomach! 

Prince Leopold seems to have a generous and 
upright character. His mind when he is inter- 
ested is wide awake and brilliant. 

I have already given the King's ideas on sport. 
He is so convinced of its salutory effect I mean 
athletic and not savage sport that he practices 
it himself. For exercise he played deck tennis 
for an hour every morning. His great height 
and remarkable strength especially, made him a 
"King" of deck tennis. At the risk of being 
indiscreet I will say that one day I saw him 
knock the officers on board breathless in a few 


moments although they had practiced the game 
a great deal. 

A long while ago the King had instituted a 
prize of 25,000 francs to be given to the author 
of a treatise on the best method of introducing 
physical exercises into our public schools and col- 
leges. At the time at which I am writing 
(March, 1920) the papers announce that the 
prize is to be given to two Belgian authors, Mr. 
J. Demoor, and Mr. Fosseprez, for their work on 
"How a free people can acquire strength and 

Moreover, astonishing as it may seem, the 
royal guest of the "George Washington" with 
his prestige of moral loyalty, his simple and 
democratic appearance, handsome carriage and 
skill as a sportsman, had from the very first 
minute become the idol of the crew. There was 
not a cabin in which his picture was not found, 
as later on after his journey through the towns 
of the United States, there could not have been a 
house in which his name was not reverenced. 

Thus on this luxurious boat fitted out with all 
the comforts of life, our King went to America. 
What made the trip on that boat even more in- 
teresting, however, was the fact that the "George 


Washington" had been built in 1903 by the Ger- 
mans and captured in 1914 by the American 
navy. Until then it was in the gorgeous salons 
of this ship that the Kaiser Wilhelm II made his 
ocean journeys. How ironical and yet how just 
fate had shown herself ! This "George Washing- 
ton" on which the imperial pirate had dreamed 
one day of traveling over conquered seas after 
having stolen the crown of the little Kingdom of 
Belgium, this very ship was now carrying its 
ruler, Albert I, who had become the greatest king 
in history, towards generous America which was 
ready to pay homage to his glorious fame! 

That night the sun set on a radiantly calm 
sea, going down like a ball of fire directly in 
front of the ship. We were sailing right towards 
that red light which seemed to come from the 
shores of America, still invisible but soon to be 
reached. Leaning over the railing in the re- 
flection of that purple glow, it seemed to me that 
it was the first ray of the crown of glory which 
the American people were preparing to place on 
the forehead of our King. 



IT soon appeared, that long-looked-f or America, 
before the eyes of the royal traveler who had 
been sailing towards it for nine days. The first 
glimpse he had of it was indeed charming. While 
his gaze was searching the line of the horizon 
toward the West in the hope of sighting land, 
black specks suddenly rose from that line and 
grew larger and larger as they drew near. They 
were six aeroplanes, graceful messengers of the 
air, by means of which America was sending us 
her first greeting. They came at great speed to- 
ward the ship, and flew so close, almost grazing 
her masts, that it seemed as if they wished to 
caress her with their wings. 

Suddenly, we saw the shores of the new world 
and gradually the panorama of the Hudson un- 
rolled before our eyes. Numerous cottages and 
villas, rather like Swiss chalets in their style of 
architecture, were scattered on the side of the 



cliffs of the shore. What a charming sight the 
verdure of those cliffs presented to our eyes ! In 
spite of the mist they seemed so luxuriant, and 
their coloring was so bright that the eyes of all, 
still full of the unending gray uniformity of the 
ocean, remained fixed on them in delightful ec- 

Five large American destroyers flying the 
Belgian colors formed our retinue. The aero- 
planes roared over our heads, Ships of every 
sort passed us by and overtook us, from warships 
with steel hulls down to the ferry which carried 
on its deck an entire train, and the trans-At- 
lantic giant which was conveying its thousands 
of passengers to some distant port. As a sign of 
greeting all those boats blew their sirens or fired 
volleys from their guns, filling the harbor with a 
great noise. Heavy clouds of smoke coming forth 
from the funnels of steamers and factory chim- 
neys darkened the sky. This scene reminded me 
of the etchings of Pennell. It was indeed the 
port of New York with its smoke and fog out of 
which rose the hum of great labor and incessant, 
feverish activity. On the shore, piled up like 
ghosts in the fog, were gigantic factories, steel 
docks to which were moored barges of every size 


whose long-necked cranes were outlined against 
the sky. Suddenly, right before us in the middle 
of the river a statue appeared, tall as a tower, 
raising its torch up in the sky and seeming to 
cry out to all those arriving amid the noise and 
the sarabands of smoke : "This is great New York, 
the capital of the world, the royal city of busi- 
ness, noise, life and gold!" 

And now, right behind the statue, towering 
above it, piercing the smoke and clouds, like 
giants stretching their necks immoderately in 
order to see better out of their thousand eyes, 
appeared the sky-scrapers of New York. From 
their heights they seemed to lean over the river, 
staring curiously in order to find out what was 
going on and see the visitor whose arrival was 
creating such disturbance. 

What was in reality occurring was at the same 
time simple and magnificent. The "George 
Washington" had come up alongside of a huge 
pier projecting into the Hudson. A gangway 
was thrown across. And while from the shores 
decorated with flags the Brabangonne echoed to 
the sky, the King, pale and stately, whose tall 
figure seemed to us at that moment surrounded 
by a halo of light and glory, passed over the 


bridge and set foot on the earth of the New 
World. He was the first sovereign whom the 
great American democracy had ever welcomed 

Because of the absence of President Wilson, 
who was ill at the time, the Vice-President, Mr. 
Marshall, with Secretary of State Lansing and 
Brand Whitlock, American Minister to Belgium, 
at his side, came up to the King and said : 

"Sire, the New World, as it is called over there 
in Europe, has already received many great and 
illustrious visitors. Ever since Christopher Co- 
lumbus discovered this continent, numerous per- 
sons who have landed here have been well re- 
ceived by the American people. Today, how- 
ever, there is not a single man among this people, 
noted for its love of liberty, fidelity, justice and 
energy, who does not bow down before you, Sire, 
the champion of integrity and loyalty, before 
you, the King, who preferred the Via Dolorosa to 
all others because it was the way of honor." 

The orator ended with this splendid peroration, 
the sublime eloquence of which cannot fail to 
be admired: 

"I bid you welcome to this republic, O great- 
est King of the most courageous people history 


has ever known. Corne to us with your honored 
flag which you have kept unravished. Come 
among a people who love fidelity and courage, 
you who at the same time that you were show- 
ing the world that treaties are not scraps of 
paper, were also showing that the words Faith 
and Loyalty must be placed above Crown and 

When the frantic demonstration with which 
this speech was welcomed had ceased, we waited 
for the King's answer. Our Sovereign, however, 
could hardly speak. His throat was choked with 
emotion. In broken phrases and a voice hardly 
intelligible, he thanked the Vice-President in the 
following beautiful words: 

"I bring to great America the infinite gratitude 
of my little people." 

This was the reception of the American gov- 
ernment, the official greeting of the Republic. 
Another welcome, however, was to exceed it, a 
welcome still more moving because nothing could 
control it in its spontaneity and warmth the 
welcome of the American people. 

In order, however, to realize the unprecedented 
warmth of this reception, one must think for a 
moment what New York is really like, this great 


and vibrating city, a veritable Babel where all 
languages are spoken and all races mixed, a 
caravansary of all the world wlicre six million 
individuals belonging to all (he nations on earth 
are crowded together. To men! ion one of the 
great nations, let us take Italy. New York is 
the largest Italian city in the world since its 
trans- Alpine population exceeds that of Home. 
New Y r ork is preeminently a cosmopolitan city 
which has no particular characteristic because 
it has all, and in which one iinds that one is no- 
where because one is everywhere. But it was 
this New York whose gigantic frame was throb- 
bing with the formidable energy of life, w T hich 
rushed to greet the King on the sidewalks and 
at the myriad of windows. 

As if in a dream, the motors of our Sovereign 
and his suite advanced through those great ave- 
nues from which rose the most deafening noise 
w r hicli had ever reached our ears. Behind a cor- 
don of soldiers were pushed together men and 
women of whom one saw only the frenzy and con- 
torsion of their shouting mouths. Jutting out 
over each other, these human masses were ar- 
ranged in layers at the windows from the side- 
walk up to the top of the tall skyscrapers, mak- 


ing a double border of living cliffs. With shrill 
whistles, serpentine spirals and basketfuls of 
many-colored confetti which floated about in the 
sunlight fell from above. Even whole piles of 
newspapers fluttered down on our heads. It is 
well known that the Americans consider any 
manner of expressing their approbation satisfac- 
tory if it is sufficiently noisy. Not satisfied with 
whistling, some had brought sirens and claxons 
with them. Even better still, a thousand workers 
had gathered in front of what seemed to be a 
metallurgical factory, each with a piece of iron 
in one hand and a hammer in the other. When 
the King appeared, they banged away with full 
force. j 

A great many comments have been made on 
this New York reception; we considered it mag- 
nificent and overpowering but perhaps a little 
naive, a little simple if not savage. Perhaps! 
But a fact which must be taken into consider- 
ation before everything else and which should 
fill us with national pride, is that on that day as 
our King drove by, the heart of a people was 
bestowed upon us. How valuable such a gift is 
when the heart is that of the American people, 
the most generous and powerful nation in the 


world, and when it is given at the dawn of that 
future of democracy and progress when the re- 
lations between states will no longer depend 
upon the ambitions and intrigues of a handful 
of despots, but on the will and temper of the 
people themselves ! 

After this popular reception, the King was 
taken to the City Hall where Mayor Hylan con- 
ferred upon him the title of citizen of New York. 

The great municipal council hall of the City 
Hall was too small to hold the members of the 
aristocracy of New York who desired to attend 
the ceremony. ^ The newspapers reported that 
never in the history of the city had a denser and 
more enthusiastic crowd been packed in that 
hall. It was under the name of Albert the Great 
that the King had the freedom of the city con- 
ferred upon him. I quote here some sentences 
from the Mayor's speech : 

"The city of New York is happy to receive 
among its citizens Albert the Great, the soldier- 
king who has won the admiration of the whole 

"With deep emotion we also greet her who was 
his faithful companion in his most dangerous 


hours, and whose devoted care kept up the cour- 
age of those who fought for their country. 

"Belgium was the pivot on which the war 
turned. It was her cry of alarm and heroism 
which called to arms liberty-loving people and 
united them in an indissoluble alliance. 

"The government of that country, religious as 
well as civil, is in competent hands which have 
undergone great trials and have been found 
equal to their task. I am speaking of that splen- 
did triumvirate formed by the King, the Queen 
and Cardinal Mercier the soldier, the woman 
and the priest, whose judgments matured in the 
great trial. 

"In the name of the people of this city, I have 
the pleasure of calling Your Majesties citizens of 
New York, the city which bore on its first coats 
of arms the name of "New Amsterdam/' a city 
whose history tells of services rendered at all 
times in the cause of liberty and democracy, a 
city proud of its Americanism the glorious city 
of New York." 

When the mayor finished, a formidable three 
cheers coming from every mouth made the frame 
of the building resound. I must mention the 
following characteristic of "Americanism" the 


shrill voices of tlie women were predominant in 
this shout. The voices of the women were also 
predominant when the orchestra started "The 
Star Spangled Banner," and all joined in singing 
the anthem at the top of their lungs. I also 
noticed another characteristic : in America the 
people, and even members of society, seem to 
know the words of the national anthem. 

Is New York a beautiful city? 

If one means by this that the aspect of this 
city gives an artistic impression, I can certainly 
answer in the negative. It is even ugly, ugly 
because of its lack of proportion, or rather be- 
cause of its extravagance of proportion. Those 
buildings of thirty or forty stories, those hulks 
which dump their bulky masses in every corner, 
have an extremely ridiculous appearance. Some 
are so absurdly big that they make one want to 
laugh. If St. Gudule's cathedral of Brussels or 
Notre-Daine of Paris were transported to New 
York, they would find as their neighbor one of 
those giants which would look at them with its 
thousand stupid eyes, robbing them of all their 

New York is also ugly because of the profusion 


of enormous skeletons of steel, thrust into the 
sky. All around in the air there are too many 
pieces of iron, bent and interlacing each other 
distortedly. At your feet are skylights below 
which trains fly ; and above all that, fastened to 
facades and roofs, a multitude of steel braces sup- 
port advertisements on billboards whose inco- 
herent confusion stuns and fatigues the mind. 
Still, New York has the beauty that an imposing 
mass creates. 

Since I have mentioned these advertisements, 
I must say a word about them. Those signs, 
which in the daytime are merely annoying, be- 
come at night a charming sight. During her 
stay in New York, the Queen expressed the desire 
to go down Broadway, famous for the number of 
its illuminations, at night. The section so pret- 
tily named by the New Yorkers "The Great 
White Way" is indeed one of the wonders of the 
huge American city. Accompanied by the Com- 
tesse de Caraman-Chimay and a few detectives 
who followed discreetly behind, Queen Elizabeth 
thus ventured across Broadway, lost in the crowd 
which jostled her without recognizing in her the 
queen whom that very morning they had been 
greeting with frantic joy. Feeling at ease be- 


cause of her incognito, she walked slowly down 
that avenue filled with dazzling brightness. 

Perhaps one can imagine the sight of those 
thousand inscriptions of fire which are lighted 
and extinguished alternately, those blazing ar- 
rows which suddenly rising up in the dark burn 
one's eyes with their effulgence; but what cer- 
tainly passes all imagination, what must indeed 
be seen before one can believe its reality, is the 
ingenuity displayed by the Americans in their 
animated advertisements. On the top of a 
huge skyscraper is a cat lying in wait for a 
mouse. Suddenly Puss makes a bound, but her 
prey escapes an<J she falls to the ground with her 
paws in the air between which a huge cigarette 
whose name is written on it in letters of fire sud- 
denly lands. An automobile of light is sailing 
in the sky. Three people are comfortably seated 
in the spacious carriage. Stones and dust are 
thrown up from the wheels. And suddenly these 
very stones become shaped and write the name 
of an automobile firm in the sky. 

One can imagine the proportions of these ad- 
vertisements perched on the top of countless 
stories. The cigarette appearing between the 
cat's paws is no less than ten yards long and 


two yards wide; the motor is four times its 
normal size. All these advertisements burn side 
by side, rivaling each other in brightness and 
originality to attract the eye of the passer-by. 

There are also others even more extraordinary. 
On a fagade a young girl is balancing on a swing. 
At each plunge of the swing which flies over an 
arc of more than thirty yards, her loosened hair 
floats in the breeze. Here is a huge pencil which 
hobgoblins running on the roofs carry at arm's 
length. There two boxers hurl blows at each 
other. Over there is a fat old man who faints 
with joy in a comfortable rocking-chair. 

But Times Square in the very center of Broad- 
way is where the Great White Way attains the 
magic enchantment of the "Arabian Nights." 
When the Queen readied it it was almost mid- 
night, and it was just as light as in broad day- 
light. Above the Square the sky was glowing 
with the lights of the city. An incomparable en- 
chantment to the eyes ! In this purple sky, roses 
and flowers of every shade slowly open and close 
their petals, fountains of diamonds spout and 
fall back into basins which they overflow and 
from which they trickle down to the ground; 
butterflies with glistening wings flutter about; 


and then above this, still higher up as if to crown 
it all, two peacocks on the top of the largest 
building display a wheel on which the whole 
gamut of colors from blue to red and yellow scin- 

I shall not stop to enumerate the extraordinary 
manifestations which succeeded each other dur- 
ing the three days which our Sovereigns spent 
in New York. I shall leave the celebration in 
Central Park where 50,000 children gathered 
together on the lawns sang the Brabangonne wav- 
ing the stars and stripes, and that other mani- 
festation in Madison Square Garden, that huge 
colosseum almost ten times as large as the Salle 
du Cinquantenaire in Brussels, where cheers 
rolled like thunder into space above the heads 
of the crowd. 

I shall leave all that to get to our special train 
in which the Sovereigns and their suite em- 
barked and where they were to live for a whole 
month while they twice traversed the United 
States from ocean to ocean. This train served 
us as a rolling hotel to which we came back after 
visiting each city. Besides their bedrooms, the 
King, Queen and Prince had a salon beautifully 
decorated in green silk, with little tables, arm- 


chairs and lamp shades of various colors. This 
salon, attached to the end of the train, opened 
out on a large platform, a kind of balcony, which 
looked out on the country through which we 



first city after New York which the 
JL King visited was Boston, the intellectual 
and aristocratic center of America. In the cathe- 
dral of this city the meeting between our Sover- 
eigns and Cardinal Mercier took place. 

According to the local newspapers the solemn 
mass celebrated on Sunday in honor of the King 
of the Belgians in the cathedral of Boston was 
one of the most moving ceremonies which this 
city had ever witnessed. 

The King, the Queen and Prince Leopold and 
their suite mounted the steps of the cathedral 
between a double row of church dignitaries who, 
dressed in their sumptuous robes of state (green 
tunics trimmed with gold and silver), had taken 
their places on the stone steps. Penetrating 
through an enormous crowd, the Sovereigns 
reached the choir where Monseigneur O'Connell, 
cardinal-archbishop of Boston, and Monseigneur 

Mercier received them. Standing at the foot of 



the altar, Monseigneur O'Coimell addressed a 
resounding speech of welcome to Albert the 

After this the King, followed by the Queen, 
went towards the stall which was designated for 
him in the choir. Having crossed himself piously, 
he knelt down. At the right of the altar under 
a magnificent dais of velvet and gold was seated 
Monseigneur Mercier. The Cardinal was wear- 
ing his great purple mantle. In this imposing 
frame the hieratic face of our prelate wore a 
peculiar expression of grandeur and nobility. 
As General Jacques remarked in pointing to the 
King, the Queen and the Cardinal, the three 
greatest personages of Belgium found themselves 
at that minute in this far-off cathedral of 

The great crowd of people, the hymns sung by 
two hundred choir boys, the marvelous solos by 
one of the most famous American singers, and 
especially the speech of Cardinal Mercier, who, 
having mounted to the pulpit, thanked the Amer- 
ican people for the generous help they had given 
to Belgium, made of this religious service a 
moving ceremony never to be forgotten. 

I ask a simple question : 


That day was Sunday. On this Sunday at the 
same hour this same Catholic mass was being 
celebrated in all the cities of the earth, in the 
towns of our distant Europe as in those of this 
great America, and other parts of the world 
and not only in the cities, but even in the small- 
est villages the same mass, according to the 
same ritual and the same liturgy, with the same 
motions of the officiating priest and the same 
prayers, and in the same language. . . . This 
Roman Catholic religion, which in spite of all the 
persecutions and heresies has thus spread itself 
so extensively, does it not really possess super- 
natural power, even divine? ... It is just a 

In America one meets no professed unbelievers 
or sceptics. Everybody pretends to be a Chris- 
tian. Of these Christian people, half of them are 
communicants. But this half is itself divided 
into two pretty equal parts. To the first belong 
the adepts of Protestantism and of diverse 
creeds; to the second, the believers in Catholi- 
cism. One can thus say roughly that one fourth 
of the American people are Catholics. Never- 
theless, this Catholic group grows from day to 
day through extraordinarily numerous conver- 


sions of young Protestants who find in the Catho- 
lic faith a more complete realization of their 

As Balzac once wrote: "Once God is recog- 
nized by the unbeliever, he throws himself into 
absolute Catholicism, which, from the point of 
view of system, is complete." 

I called Boston an intellectual city. Boston 
is indeed the center of American thought. There 
are its scholars, its thinkers and its artists. The 
birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe and Emerson, 
this great city lies cairn, favorable to meditation 
and study. It contains the oldest university in 
America, founded in 1769 by Harvard, whose 
name it bears. 

Harvard University decided to confer on the 
King of the Belgians the degree of Doctor of 
Law. On this occasion an imposing ceremony 
took place. All the doctors and professors of 
the faculty were gathered together in the great 
hall of the college, dressed in their long purple 
gowns bordered with ermine with their individual 

In the presence of this assembly, President 
Lowell conferred upon our Sovereign the degree 
of Doctor of Law in the following terms: 


"The members of the Board of Directors and 
Faculty of Harvard University have come to- 
gether to-day to pay homage to the acts accom- 
plished by your Majesty and the Queen, to assure 
you of their compassion for the sufferings of your 
people, and to express their admiration for your 
proud refusal to permit the tyrant to march 
through the land, and for the self-respect which 
preferred the calamity of a ruthless invasion to 
loss of honor and breach of national faith. When 
we saw you doing these things, we understood 
that the King of the Belgians was every inch a 
king. That is why Harvard University to-day is 
conferring on the King of the Belgians because 
he was the defender of right, the degree of Doctor 
of Law." 

In order to appreciate the great honor con- 
ferred upon our Sovereign by Harvard Univer- 
sity, it must be realized that it is only the fifth 
time that the University has bestowed this hon- 
orary degree at any other time than at Com- 
mencement. The four persons who received this 
honor previously were George Washington, who 
obtained it in 1776, Andrew Jackson in 1833, 


Prince Henry of Prussia in 1902, and General 
Joffre in 1917. 

At tlie bottom of the parchment which was 
given to the King guaranteeing his degree, were 
written the words of Shakespeare: "Aye, every 
inch a King." 

I have called Boston an aristocratic city. That 
is indeed because old families who can trace 
their ancestors three and four generations back 
^ive there. A relative antiquity one may say. 
Very true, but we are in young America, and it 
must, moreover, be said that this gilded aristoc- 
racy betrays its origin at the first glance of a 

It was in New York principally, however, 
that it was permissible to make some cutting 
remarks in the realm of customs. There the 
wealth of an individual determines his social po- 
sition. His income is his title of nobility. lu 
New York you are not asked who you are but 
how much are you worth. If you are worth a 
million, you belong to the aristocracy even if 
your father was a bootblack. 

The King was invited to lunch in the center of 
this New York aristocracy, the Bankers' Club. 


What would ancient Europe of the seventeenth 
century have thought if it had known that one 
of its grandsons, of the purest royal blood, should 
some day sit down at table with men who had 
no other royalty but that of the dollar? 

In this banquet hall were gathered the great- 
est financiers of America. As some one said, 
many more millions of dollars were represented 
there than in the whole of Paris and London to- 
gether. We met the steel king and many others 
there. When they were presented to our Sov- 
reign, they showed great deference for his moral 
courage, but as for anything more well, they 
were kings too! 

Nevertheless, joking aside, I was very much 
impressed by the appearance and physiognomy 
of these men. Almost all of them were tall with 
vigorous complexions, square shoulders and firm 
wrists. The blood of a young and healthy race 
ran through their veins. Their faces were par- 
ticularly expressive. In the shrewdness and pen- 
etration of their eyes could be read ingenuity and 
intelligence. The curves of their compressed 
lips, like the lines in their foreheads and their 
white hair, revealed the accomplishment of their 


task. Though America does not possess a nobili- 
ty of ancestry, it possesses that of work, and 
especially of individual merit. 

We sat down. Can you imagine a banquet, a 
sumptuous banquet without the smallest drop of 
wine or liqueur? It was, nevertheless, the 
gloomy reality. As I write these lines I still see 
placed in front of the King that solitary glass 
filled with hopelessly limpid water on which 
a few small pieces of ice floated sadly about. 
That endless ice water during this long journey! 
Header, you know by hearsay the prohibition of 
wines and liqueurs in America. I do not know 
how you feel about it, but I maintain that to 
judge it rightly one must sit three times a day 
for two months before a glass of ice water. What 
an obsession ! Wherever you go they offer it to 
you. In many public buildings, large stores, 
banks and hotels a fountain of ice water is at the 
disposal of the visitors. If you go in a restau- 
rant, even before you have given your order, the 
waiter pours you out a glass of ice water. And 
at night just before going to bed there is that 
same glass in which little specks of ice are float- 
ing, sitting invariably on the table next to your 


During the journey the King easily bore this 
privation from all wine and all liqueur. He is 
an abstainer by principle and by preference. But 
such was not the case with the members of his 
suite. There was perpetual regret at the bot- 
tom of their hearts with a constant subject for 
joking. One of tlieni whom I asked one morn- 
ing if he had slept well answered me: "Sleep 
well ! Just imagine, an angel came to me in a 
dream with a drop of benedictine in the hollow 
of his hand which he poured through my lips!" 

In certain large American restaurants the bill 
of fare bore the inscription "Beer." Beer! We 
jumped for joy and ordered it in haste, and then, 
warning us not to drink too much of it, they 
brought us that mixture which is called tisane 
in Europe. 

Nevertheless, one must not think that the 
masses of the American people rejoice over pro- 
hibition. Quite the contrary, they recriminate 
and lament. Rich America, they say, has be- 
come the country of arid dry ness. 

The way in which the people were led to vote 
for what they regret to-day is well known. The 
question of the prohibition of alcohol was put 
to the electorate in the following manner: "Do 


you believe in shutting the saloons in your dis- 

At the beginning of the campaign for prohibi- 
tion the voters, in their anxiety to do away with 
the abuses of the saloon, voted in the affirmative. 
But since their vote entailed the prohibition of 
the sale of all kinds of alcoholic beverages, they 
saw that they had been fooled. They were in- 
deed anxious to suppress the abuse of excessive 
intoxication but they wanted to keep the right 
to drink wine, beer and cider in their own homes. 
Now by their own vote they can no longer do so. 

Nevertheless, this prohibition was only for a 
certain length of time which was to end as soon 
as peace was declared. But in the delay over 
the ratification of the treaty, people had time to 
perceive the advantages of this temporary pro- 
hibition. Also on January 16, 1920, an amend- 
ment to the Constitution made prohibition gen- 
eral and final. Prom this time on all over the 
United States the manufacture, transportation, 
importation and sale of drinks containing more 
than one and one half per cent alcohol has been 

It is only right, however, to add that this pro- 
hibition of alcohol has had more satisfactory re- 


suits in the realm of morals. Here are some 
figures taken from a recent study of the records. 
Since prohibition has been in effect, public 
drunkenness has diminished from sixty to ninety 
per cent; crime has diminished equally. More- 
over, it is said that the State of Ohio is selling 
one of its penitentiaries on account of the dearth 
of guests. The largest hospital in Philadelphia 
is closing its alcoholic ward, and the special ward 
of the famous Bellevue Hospital in New York, 
which registered one hundred and seventy pa- 
tients a week, now only counts eighteen on the 

To return to our banquet, I noticed that Amer- 
icans smoke during their meals. They light 
cigarettes in the intervals between the courses. 
What a frightful custom, you will exclaim! And 
then all that siuoke in the mouth must spoil 
everything, or at least neutralize the taste. Yet, 
perhaps this is the reason. As a patient is given 
an anesthetic to deaden the pain of the knife, 
is there not perhaps some advantage in neutral- 
izing one's palate against American cooking, that 
disastrous cooking? 

We regained our special train in Boston. We 


got on board at nine o'clock at night and woke 
the next morning at eight to find ourselves at 
Niagara Falls on the Canadian border, more 
than five hundred miles from Boston, carried 
there without noticing it like the character in 
the "Arabian Mghts" who traveled on a magic 
carpet while he slept. 

I must say a word in passing about the quality 
of American trains. I am not speaking of the 
royal train, which was a special, but of trains 
in general. They are indeed run with extraordi- 
nary comfort. There is only one class for all 
travelers. The millionaire finds himself sitting 
opposite his servant. Thus wills American de- 
mocracy. The cars are extraordinarily clean. It 
is true that the public helps to keep them so. 
The advertisements which one soes placarded in 
our trains begging us not to harm the woodwork 
and upholstery are entirely superfluous in the 
United States. The American considers that all 
public goods are under his personal protection. 
He has, moreover, the greatest respect for the 
property of other people, even when that other 
person is the government. It is a matter of edu- 
cation. Surely American education reveals cer- 
tain sides at which it is permissible to laugh, 


but on the other hand it teaches us lessons which 
we could learn to our advantage. 

The trains are especially arranged for the 
night. The reason for this is that Americans 
travel more by night than by day. It is an 
economy in time, and time is money. It is true 
that in this enormous country where great dis- 
tances separate towns from one another the 
slightest change of place is considerable. The 
European who takes a night journey in an Amer- 
ican train cannot help being struck by the inti- 
macy between men and women. As the space 
between the curtains and the berth is very nar- 
row, one sees gentlemen and ladies getting 
chastely undressed in the aisles. In the morn- 
ing everybody hurries half dressed to the wash- 
room. And all this with the greatest purity of 
morals. Nobody would allow himself to joke 
about it even mildly. 

I do not believe that there is a country in the 
world with a higher morality than America. 
They are not only chaste in their conduct but 
in their thoughts. Even in the conversations 
among men those spicy stories and anecdotes 
which divert us are banished. They are particu- 
larly ignorant of that art of obscene insinuations 


and subtle words with double meanings which is 
so characteristically Latin. That belongs pecu- 
liarly to the French. Doubtless they judge us 
aright. It is a fact that one will always be able 
to pronounce "gauloiserie" while never saying 
"Americanism." The word would not suit Uncle 
Sam, any more than the thing itself. 

Talking about these trains, they told me that 
under certain circumstances when there was a 
great crowd strange men and women would sleep 
in the same section. The man would take the 
upper berth and the woman the lower. Is that 
right? I do not know, but if this does happen, 
I am sure that it is with the greatest propriety. 
Of course I should not like to set up this rule of 
proper conduct as an absolute law. In morals 
there is no absolute law. But it remains never- 
theless that in America the abuse would be the 
exception while with us it would be the rule for 
the most part. 

Since Louis Hennepin, the Belgian explorer, 
described Niagara Falls for the first time in 
1663, much has been written about this wonder. 
Still, as Eoosevelt said, one can only realize what 


these falls are really like when one has seen 
them with one's own eyes. 

The King remained for a long while leaning 
over the railing of one of the rocks which domi- 
nated the falls. Ills wide open eyes and the de- 
lighted expression on his face showed his admira- 
tion for this great river which swept down in 
immense waves, hurling itself from a height of 
167 feet. A column of mist and water-dust rose 
from the abyss across which a rainbow, like a 
jewel sparkling through golden hair, described 
its luminous arc. As one of the guides ex- 
plained to our Sovereign, scientists calculated 
that it must have t-iken the river 35,000 to 75,000 
years to gnaw through the coralline stone, which 
formerly made it change its course and precipi- 
tate itself at this spot. Fifteen million cubes 
of water fall there per minute. 

From where he was standing, the King sud- 
denly caught sight of little wooden bridges at the 
bottom of the roaring, boiling abyss which the 
daring Americans had built from rock to rock 
hardly more than a hundred yards from the foot 
of the cataract. 

The dauntlessness of our Sovereign is well 


known. He immediately expressed a desire to 
take the trip across the bridges. Wherever the 
King goes the Queen goes too. She also wanted 
to be part of the expedition. And naturally the 
"Suite" followed, among whom I knew more than 
one would have preferred not to step into the 
costumes which were given us. Except for the 
helmet which was replaced by a rubber hood, it 
was really a diver's suit which they put on the 
royal pair and their companions. When the 
explorers came out of their cabins thus muffled 
up and met each other, everybody was frankly 
hilarious. Indeed, this coarse uniform was not 
flattering to our little Queen, who is always so 
graceful. We read on her face a real terror when 
she had to pass in front of the inevitable lenses 
of the herd of photographers and moving-pic- 
ture men stationed, as they never failed to be, in 
every corner. 

Huddled on the little bridges to which we 
descended, our little troop contemplated the gor- 
geous spectacle of the river, which crashed at 
our feet with a great noise like an immense cry 
of horror. 

Under the bridge ran the river, boiling and 
hissing with the speed of an express train, less 


than three feet away from us. A spray of rain 
lashed our rubber coats like hailstones and hit 
us in the face, while gusts of wind took our 
breath away. 

"You would think we were in the trenches," 
said General Jacques, twisting his long mustache 
from which water flowed fast. 

The King and Queen were delighted with their 
little excursion to the bridges. "A walk like that 
is worth more than the cures in all our sana- 
toria/' said our Sovereign, smiling. 

Sometimes on the steamer and sometimes in 
the electric railway which runs along the side 
of the cliffs, Their Majesties wandered around 
the charming and magnificent shores of the river. 
At one moment when we were looking intently 
at a large mansion situated on the top of a hill 
with a wonderful panorama, General Jacques 
with his usual geniality slapped me on the shoul- 
der. "If you give me a hundred thousand livres 
a year," he said, pointing to the house, "I will 
live there willingly the rest of my life." 

"I should say so, General!" 

But suddenly the hero of Dixinude changed his 
mind on second thought. His eyes expressed a 
deep emotion as he said : 


"Well, no. All that is not worth my old place 
at Vielsalm. That is the little corner where I 
want to grow old and die." 

Leaving Niagara Falls, we dashed towards the 
West, crossing the great states of Pennsylvania, 
Ohio and Illinois. To give an idea of their size, 
it is sufficient to say that some of the Middle- 
Western states are larger than France. 

Of Ohio I will only mention the overwhelming 
reception which our Sovereigns received in To- 
ledo, the native town of the American Minister 
to Belgium. It was an act of graceful delicacy 
on the part of our King to insist on stopping in 
that city to thank her for having given us that 
great and glorious friend of Belgium, Brand 

After Ohio, Illinois. I must say a few words 
about an extraordinary city through which the 
royal train, nevertheless, passed without stop- 
ping, because the German element is so predomi- 
nant there that it numbers almost as many Ger- 
man inhabitants as American. It seems that a 
city is built in America as quickly as a monu- 
ment is erected in Europe. Chicago is a pro- 
digious example of this. This city, which now 


contains almost four million souls, was only a 
hamlet of a hundred cottages in 1831, barely 
ninety years ago. This is even more remarkable 
if we recall that Chicago, built entirely of wood, 
was completely destroyed by lire in 1871. It 
took a week to raze it to the ground. But behold 
the miracle of American speed ! Chicago was re- 
built, this time in stone, with such rapidity 
that a local newspaper wrote this sentence which 
has since become famous: "The lire which found 
Chicago a city of wood left it transformed into 

A huge and cosmopolitan city where Germans, 
Irish, Scandinavians, Polew nnd Bohemians el- 
bow each other. 

About forty languages are spoken there. News- 
papers appear printed in ten languages and re- 
ligious services are held in twenty different 

The colossal industry of this "cit6-ardente," 
the first market of the world because of its trade 
in cereals and preserved meat, is famous across 
the sea. Yet at the time we passed through 
it that landscape dotted with huge factories and 
covered with an extraordinary network of rail- 
roads presented an appearance which was as 


unexpected as it was deceptive. The cars lay 
motionless on their rails. The cranes, wind- 
lasses, cables, all the apparatus of iron and steel 
of the most intense human activity lay inert as 
if congealed in death. Not a workman amid this 
silence. Nothing but here and there rows of 
soldiers, their guns on their shoulders. 

The King found out the reason for all this 
when they told him that a strike had just been 
called among the laboring population of the city. 
You see that the Bolshevik virus penetrates far. 

You can imagine the financial loss which a 
general strike must bring to a city like Chicago. 
If the enforced idleness lasts several dnys, the 
loss must be reckoned in millions, perhaps in 
hundreds of millions of dollars. 

In speaking of this I must say that America is 
afraid of Bolshevism. It watches iis progress 
with distress. Every day the newspapers devote 
long, anxious articles to the subject. One of the 
first questions asked of a traveler arriving from 
Europe is : 

"Is Bolshevism still making progress in your 
country? Will it continue to spread? And how 
about strikes?" 

Strikes! The United States was infested with 


them like a plague. During the King's journey 
we counted no less than one hundred and twen- 
ty-five trades in which the workmen had laid 
down their tools. Still the government defends 
itself with extraordinary energy. Our news- 
papers reported in the first days of January, 
1920, that five hundred arrests had been made 
in New York in a single night. The same was 
true that night in twenty-three American cities. 
I could see that Uncle Sam had his own argu- 

I must add that this fear of Bolshevism seems 
to be one of the causes which paralyzed the action 
of the Conference on Labor in Washington, 
where the delegates of the various powers of the 
labor world met recently. Thinking it had dis- 
covered fuel for Bolshevism in this conference, 
the press carried out a conspiracy of silence 
which eventually smothered it by preventing the 
public from becoming interested. 

But we are "burning" Chicago. In order to 
ward off the fatigue which our Sovereigns were 
likely to feel, the American government had de- 
cided to do away with all official receptions for 
a few days and transport its august guests with- 


out stopping to the Pacific Coast, where they 
could rest in some retired spot. A series of 
states were crossed with a speed entirely Ameri- 
can. The records were broken, we were told, be- 
cause in that country they adore to break records, 
as I shall have an opportunity of showing more 
clearly later on. 

"But is this speed not dangerous for the 
King?" I asked a conductor. 

"Oh, no, sir; every precaution has bocn taken. 
Three special engineers are on board. The rail- 
way system has been perfectly studied." 

And I can still hear that man finishing phleg- 
matically: "Besides, an engine is constantly 
preceding us by five or six miles. In this way 
if there should be a collision, the engine would 
be wrecked, not this train." 

Being very curious about everything that has 
to do with locomotives and the art of driving a 
train, our King, during the journey, expressed 
a desire to ride in the cab of the engine. He 
was thus able to see at close range how the mon- 
ster was operated. It was this visit of the King 
to the engine from which the newspapers wove 
that fanrdtt* legend of the King running his own 


train. In reality our Sovereign never touched a 

On this occasion we noticed again a trait that 
is characteristically American : the ingenuity 
and extraordinary daring of the photographers 
and moving-picture men. They were always in 
every corner, ready to catch in their cameras 
the occurrences and scenes which interested 
them. No difficulty, no danger prevented them 
from "filming" any sensational event. While 
the King was on the engine, did we not see one of 
these bold fellows turning the crank of his movie 
machine, perched on the tender in danger of 
being knocked down by the wind? 

When the King arrived at New York harbor, 
some of these bold photographers had installed 
themselves at an incredible height on a steel 
beam, which swung out from the roof of a sky- 
scraper and seemed to be suspended over the 
water. A slight dizziness, a false motion, and 
it would have meant a plunge into the abyss be- 
low for these unfortunate beings. The most in- 
genious and intrepid among them enjoy great 
popularity. The magazines and newspapers pay 
enormous sums to secure the services of these 


One word about the American press. It is 
noisy and sensational. For this reason it has no 
other aim than that of exciting curiosity and of 
making itself read. Hardly scrupulous even 
about the truth, it considers everything true 
which is probable or even possible. In no way 
a moralist, it has no anxiety for apostleship. It 
does not lead public opinion or educate it, but 
follows it, flatters it, and tries to please it. Its 
soul is mercantile before everything else. 

Under the signature of Saint-Sixte, who is 
familiar with the Americans, the "Mercure de 
France" has recently published a study which, 
though a little severe, seems to us nevertheless to 
be exact enough : "By its headlines, which are 
written with abbreviations that are often incom- 
prehensible to the newcomer, the press satisfies 
the need of its readers for emotion and feverish 
haste. Always aiming for effect, it incessantly 
sacrifices everything to the desire of astonishing 
them by the publication of the most extraordi- 
nary and most uncontrolled news. The quality 
or truth matters little provided it prints the 
quantity. What characterizes the American 
press in my mind is its inquisitive spirit, which 
consequently becomes tyrannical. There is noth- 


ing sacred to the press in the United States; the 
reporters busy themselves with everything, stick 
their noses into everything, write about every- 
thing under the sun; they must be omniscient 
and they are omnipotent. They must let noth- 
ing prevent them from accomplishing a pro- 
fessional tour-de-force. An eminent Frenchman 
living in New York goes on business to a west- 
ern city and dies at a hotel there. A reporter 
who is shrewder than the others succeeds in 
finding out who the deceased man was and in 
getting the telephone number of his home. In 
order to be the first to publish an obituary and 
announce this interesting event, he does not hesi- 
tate to telephone to the widow, to tell her of the 
death and get from her the main points for his 
article. And no one cries out against this abomi- 
nation; no, it is a little excessive perhaps, but 
nevertheless typical. Another example. It is 
well known that in most American cities hotels 
are closed to unmarried couples. If a man and 
woman should succeed in breaking this rule, 
and, as might happen, should they be discovered 
that very night by a raid of the police, they will 
not only be dragged before a judge to answer for 
their violation of the law, but it is only too likely 


that the names of the delinquents will be pub- 
lished in all the papers the next morning. These 
two examples are taken from among a thousand. 
One can literally say that the investigating spirit 
of the American reporters does not recoil before 
any susceptibility, or before any decency, how- 
ever reasonable or natural it may be. 

"For them the barrier of private life does not 
exist at all; moreover, the word privacy is en- 
tirely unknown to them. And it is this which 
explains not only the political omnipotence of the 
press but also its social tyranny." 

What I have said of the legend of the Engineer- 
King and of certain characteristics of the press, 
gives me an opportunity of saying a word about 
a tendency peculiar to the American nature. 
Doubtless, of course, people all over the world 
are familiar with this trait. But the Americans 
themselves have the best word to describe it, 
probably because they feel they have more need 
for it bluff. And the virtuosos in the art of 
bluffing are surely the Yankee reporters. What 
an art! We must certainly gratefully acknowl- 
edge that they manipulated it wonderfully in en- 
hancing the popularity of our Sovereigns. I 
will give a few examples of this. 


The American people are infatuated on the 
subject of sport So these clever journalists in- 
stalled the King in front of the levers of his 
engine and made him break the speed records. 
Americans admire, above everything else, hard- 
working men who have made their own way in 
life. A rather difficult trait to reconcile with 
the hereditary royalty of Albert I. But do not 
think, however, that such a small matter baffled 
the reporters. They discovered the street in 
New York in which our King worked, earning 
his living as a newspaper reporter when he made 
his first journey to the United States twenty 
years ago. This wa& printed in large headlines 
in certain New York papers. The story was so 
popular that a San Francisco paper took it up 
later on and made it more lively by putting these 
words in the mouth of the King when he was 
passing through the city: "Well, look at that 
newspaper office! It is there I worked twenty 
years ago! I even remember that I was dis- 
missed for reporting some event badly." 

They also took care of the popularity of the 
Queen. The same San Francisco paper stated 
that during the war she found herself at one 


time in such disastrous straits that she pawned 
her jewels at the Mont-de-Pi6t6. 

But surely the record example of American 
bluff is the story of the lion cage. Every one 
knows this story, the echoes of which reached 
Europe and even Belgium, where foolish exploits 
are not popular and where it created some un- 
easiness. I may be permitted to relate that little 
episode as I saw it with my own eyes. 

Walking through the valley of the Yosemite, 
which I shall have a chance to describe later on, 
the small party of our Sovereigns and their 
suite were visiting an Indian encampment when 
we saw a large cage divided by a partition into 
two compartments. There were two lions inside 
that betrayed two peculiarities, the lirst of which, 
and probably the most striking, was that they 
were not lions at all, but what we call in Europe 
pumas American lions u kind of intermediary 
species between a cat and a small leopard. The 
other interesting thing about these animals was 
that they had been taken from the nest in their 
earliest infancy and had known no other society 
but that of man, whom they probably feared less 
than their own kind. Make-believe lions, most 
peaceful and gentle lions ! They were so darling, 


these little lions who purred as they rubbed their 
heads against the bars of their prison, that Queen 
Elizabeth was touched, and following the guard 
Tyho went into the cage, petted o<ne of them. The 
Queen's coat had a border of fur. Smelling this, 
the little creature put out his paw to play with 
it. This fur which aroused an appetite of the 
wild beast, this tap of the paw. . . . The report- 
ers made of this an international sensation. 
They pictured the Queen of Belgium struggling 
with the lions of America. 

Since I am speaking of certain characteristics 
of American popular taste, I must emphasize 
another which has originality. It is the mania 
for breaking records. Possessed by a real fever 
for emulation, the Americans make a record of 
everything in art, as well as in pugilism. The 
best in the world; the largest in the world 
they have these words incessantly on the tips 
of their tongues. There are certain figures which 
every good American knows and can rattle off 
in one breath! 

The largest hotel in the world is situated in 
New York, the Hotel Pennsylvania, which con- 
tains 2,200 bedrooms, each with a bathroom and 
shower adjoining. (The American cannot con- 


ceive of a man who has some idea of hygiene 
and some care as to the cleanliness of his person 
and does not take a bath every morning. Also 
in many hotels in the United States the bedroom 
is next to the bathroom.) I walked along the 
galleries of the main floor of the Pennsylvania. 
In the assembly-rooms of these large hotels Amer- 
ican society congregates in the evening. They 
constitute the city's boulevard. Here are shops 
brilliantly illuminated, belonging to the hotel, 
and displaying jewels, furs, clothing, lingerie, 
perfumes, etc. A guest at the Pennsylvania can 
buy all his personal requirements without leav- 
ing the hotel. 

The Pennsylvania has twenty-two stories. But 
the record for height in New York is held by the 
Woolworth Building, which has no less than 
fifty-eight floors. It is the highest stone monu- 
ment in the world. Its floors are filled with 
bureaus of banks and other business centers. 
One goes from one to the other by means of ele- 
vators. Among these are locals which stop at 
every floor, and expresses which stop at the most 
important floors, the large stations. Still it was 
a through express which carried our Sovereign 


up to the fifty-eighth floor of the Woolworth 

From there we could embrace with one glance 
the great panorama of the vibrating and smoking 
city. What a dream-like vision ! New York was 
there below our eyes with its wonderful harbor, 
over which bridges leading to Brooklyn project; 
its streets running in straight lines. The pedes- 
trians on the sidewalks seemed like a mass of 
diminutive ants, in and out of which moved the 
street cars like long yellow caterpillars. Per- 
haps one would be interested in knowing the 
number of people which one of these skyscrapers 
holds. During working hours 25,000 human 
beings are crowded into the Woolworth Build- 
ing. The size of this figure can be better ap- 
preciated if we remember that one of our beau- 
tiful cities, Charleroi, has precisely the same 

But everything is on the same scale in this 
gigantic country. For as the population of one 
of our towns could be compressed into one Amer- 
ican building, almost the entire population of 
Belgium could be crowded into a single city, 
since Belgium has seven and a half million in- 
habitant* whilf If ew York tow tfix million. 


I must add that this profusion of skyscrapers 
or clqud-pressers is found only in New York. 
This is explained by the narrow area of Man- 
hattan Island, on which the city is built. Since 
the land was incapable of extension, the New 
York architects had to make up in height and 
depth for what was lost in breadth. 

I say in height and depth. These great sky- 
scrapers indeed go down into the depths of the 
earth* The Woolworth has four underground 
stories. But the record for underground stories 
is held, I was told, by a building in Philadelphia 
which counts fourteen. They scrape below as 
well as above ! 

Another record is that of the number of auto- 
mobiles. There seem to be hardly any horses 
in the United States. Motors are so common 
everywhere that they are often used by workmen 
going to their factories and farmers to their 
fields. Some of the latter go off to their land 
comfortably installed in a spacious body over- 
flowing with a pile of spades, scythes, rakes and 
other implements of plowing. 

It is estimated that in the whole of the 
United States there is one automobile for every 
fifteen people. In New York statistics show one 


for every ten inhabitants. But the record is 
held by Detroit with the fantastic proportion of 
one automobile to every inhabitant. It must be 
said, however, that the famous Ford factories 
are situated in Detroit. 

Still the most singular and charming record 
held by the Americans is that for beauty. Some 
large towns have their queen of beauty. The 
queen takes part in the large dinners and balls 
given in the city. As Paul Bourget said, she 
figures there as well as roses at a dollar apiece 
and unadulterated champagne. ( Bourget visited 
America at a time when they still had unadulter- 
ated champagne!) The queen of beauty repre- 
sents her city in other towns, at boat races and 
horse races. She is a champion in her own way 
like a master at billiards or a famous boxer. 

On this occasion I remember having explained 
to an American who was surprised that such 
contests did not exist in Belgium, that it would 
be impossible because all our women were beau- 

It was now a week since we had left New York. 
Ohio, Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado and Utah had 
been crossed at top speed. Our train flew across 


the great and uniformly flat steppes of the Far 
West. As we went by, they pointed out the home 
of the famous Buffalo Bill to the King, a little 
house crouching in the shade of a few trees. 
On these endless plains where w T e sometimes 
caught sight of ranches and nerds of oxen or 
sheep driven by cowboys on horseback, the great 
"Son of the Prairies 7 ' used to practice rifle-shoot- 
ing and lassoing. Nevertheless, it was in vain 
that we looked for Redskins, Sioux and other 
apaches who rush to attack trains with knives 
in their hands and war-cries on their lips. All 
that ceased to exist a long time ago, our Ameri- 
can companions told us, smiling. To tell the 
truth, we would not have minded a little attack 
make-believe, of course. But good old Feniinore 
Cooper has been buried such a long time. 

We were now crossing the Rocky Mountains, 
chains of granite where the cold is intense. They 
are inhabited by a half savage population. Each 
time the train stopped in some straggling village 
to get water or test the wheels and axles, the 
King's car was immediately surrounded by 
natives. They knew that this king was a gal- 
lant king and they greeted him frantically. One 
thing, however, deceived them a little. There 


was not enough pomp and show about this mon- 
arch who, standing in a simple loimging-jucket 
on the observation platform of his train, waved 
at them with his hand. 

"Is that really the King of the Belgians?" one 
jovial fellow, whose features disappeared under 
his great soft felt hat, asked defiantly. 

"Why, of course. Why should it not be he?" 

"Because," he answered, "well, because he 
has not got a crown." 

These good people were probably expecting a 
personage gorgeously attired, sitting on a throne 
of gold with a scepter in his hand. 

It was in these parts that the King had a 
very amusing adventure. It is well known that 
our Sovereign is in the habit of getting up very 
early. One day when the train had stopped at 
about seven in the morning, the King, dressed 
in a simple morning suit and cap, was walking 
up and down the tracks when a rail worker 
touched his arm. 

"I say, old man, is this train where the King 
of the Belgians is?" 

"Yes, certainly." 

"Could you tell me if he is up yet?" 

King Albert remained thoughtful for a min- 


ute as one who is not quite sure, and then said : 

"No, I don't think he is np yet. They say he 

is very lazy and never gets up before ten o'clock." 

We were going down the west slope of the 
Rocky Mountains and rushing towards Califor- 
nia, which we were to reach in two day. It 
seemed as if we were increasing our speed in 
proportion as we were drawing near the promised 

The King only stopped a couple of hours in the 
Mormon city, Salt Lake City. We were led 
into the immense tabernacle erected by the dis- 
ciples of the Mormon religion. This temple, 
which has the peculiarity of being bnilt entirely 
of wood there is not a single bolt or a single 
nail in its gigantic frame is large enough to 
hold 10,000 people. It was, moreover, before 
such a multitude that the mayor of the city ad- 
dressed to his guest the traditional speech of 
welcome. After a recital on an organ said to be 
the largest in the world, we were given some very 
interesting points on the Mormon religion. Its 
fundamental principles are Faith in the Trinity 
and Eepentance. Still, God being only the most 
powerful of men, every man can hope to become 


a God in his turn. Among the sacraments there 
is baptism by immersion and the laying on of the 
hands. Also marriage for this world or a future 
life or for eternity alone. They gave me many 
explanations about the meaning of this marriage 
for eternity alone, but I left the Mormon high 
priests before I had understood anything about 

Marriage for this life or a future life, however, 
found a peculiar answer when (he royal train 
reached the neighboring town of Reno, the easiest 
place in the world where one can obtain a divorce. 
A sojourn of six months in this town is indeed 
sufficient for the local authorities to break a 
civil marriage simply on request. One also finds 
at Reno a whole colony of fashionable men and 
women who come from all corners of the United 
States to obtain a separation as soon as their 
term is accomplished. Only six months to sepa- 
rate two human beings who have sworn faith- 
fulness for life! Still another record broken! 
Are the Americans just as proud of this one? 

I have emphasized the high morals of the 
United States. If they condemn adultery, how- 
ever, the Yankees are fond of divorce. It would 
seem as if no American girl ever got married 


without thinking in the back of her mind that 
divorce is always left as a remedy for an un- 
successful marriage. Here are some figures 
which go to prove the ever-increasing vogue of 
conjugal ruptures. From 1867 to 1906, when the 
population was a little more than doubling by 
increasing from thirty-eight to eighty -five mil- 
lions, the number of divorces increased from 
12,000 to 72,000 sixfold. 

An average number of divorces was established 
in 1900 for the principal countries of Europe and 
America. Per 100,000 inhabitants, this average 
was twelve divorces in Serbia, fifteen in Ger- 
many, seventeen in Denmark, twenty-three in 
France, thirty-two in Switzerland and seventy- 
two in America. As you see, Uncle Sam again 
breaks a record, and at what a margin ! 

Before rushing to attack the gigantic moun- 
tains of Sierra Nevada, the royal train crossed 
one of the arms of the Great Salt Lake on a 
frame bridge twenty-three miles long. This lake, 
very like the Dead Sea of Palestine, is one of the 
curiosities of the world. No fish can live in it 
because it is twenty per cent salt. The density 
of the water is such that a man jumping into it 
often finds that he tan float without making any 


motion. Divers cannot plunge below those bit- 
ter waves. 

It was intensely cold on this lake when we 
crossed it. It is, moreover, characteristic of this 
climate for sudden changes of temperature to 
occur in going from one region to another. At 
certain moments the cold grips your ears; the 
next minute the heat makes you take off all heavy 
clothing. You need a strong constitution to 
stand these jumps which shatter your nerves. 
Queen Elizabeth, however, was not in the least 
bothered by it As for our robust King, he al- 
ways had on his lips that jovial smile of a man 
who has seen many things. 



IT was on the next day that the gigantic hills 
of the Sierra Nevada rose before us, the last 
rampart which was hiding California from our 
eyes. The greatness of the gorges of the Sierra 
Nevada, that chain which runs for five hundred 
miles between Nevada and California, has often 
been described. The average height of these 
mountains is from nine thousand to eleven thou- 
sand feet, and some are even higher than twelve 
thousand feet. 

All day long we rolled across this savage wil- 
derness, hanging at times above dizzy abysses 
down the slopes of which were displayed pano- 
ramas rivaling by their splendor the much- 
praised scenes in our European Alps. In order 
to lose nothing of the sceneiy the King and the 
Prince crossed this chain of mountains in the 
cab of the engine. 

Towards evening, as twilight began to fall, we 
realized that w r e were going down. The air 



which had been intensely cold till then suddenly 
became soft and fragrant. A smell of perfume 
floated about, effluvia of flowers and fruits. It 
is thus that we knew that we had just entered 
California, the land of fruit, flowers and sun, the 
Eldorado of the world. But we did not know 
what this dreamland was really like until the 
next morning when we woke up at Santa Bar- 
bara, facing the blue waters of the Pacific. 

How can one describe in such colorless terms 
as those of the human tongue that paradise on 
earth, Santa Barbara? Before this magnificence, 
this fairyland of nature, the pen remains power- 
less. Magnificence, fairyland. ... I should like 
to array anew these poor words which have been 
so used and abused that they have lost their 
value, like coins which have been worn down. I 
ought to be silent, I say, because I do not possess 
the words, but it is a need of human nature to 
wish to make other people share a little of our de- 
light. Imagine a chain of mountains so high that 
their summits are left in the clouds on the edge of 
a sea eternally blue. At a certain spot along the 
coast this chain makes a little curve, forming a 
nest between its granite arms. That nest is 
Santa Barbara. Coming down from the moun- 


tain you only see at first the foliage of the great 
eucalyptus trees, the palms, lemon trees and 

But underneath the palms of this equatorial 
flora are revealed delightful little chalets nes- 
tling in their own shade, built entirely of wood 
bungalows as they are called in the musical lan- 
guage of India. Around these bungalows are 
flowers, flowers in full bloom, butterflies of every 
color of the rainbow, and birds of every variety 
from the pelican to the humming-bird. These 
humming-birds! Who can describe the grace of 
those insects which have turned into birds? The 
Queen one evening was watching one chasing a 
butterfly which had taken refuge near a flower. 
To escape from the bird, the butterfly was flying 
round and round the corolla. And there was 
such a glistening of feathers, wings and petals 
that the flower, the bird and the butterfly were all 
blended together in confusion. It seemed as if 
the flowers were flying about and the butterflies 
were bouquets on the branches. 

But the magic quality of this place lies in its 
light. The light is so radiant and so pure that 
it seems luminous in itself. But though it is 
dazzling, it is not crude and does not hurt one's 


eyes but caresses them like the warm air which 
bathes one's forehead. In this light the fruits 
grow ripe, abundant and full of flavor. I picked 
lemons like that from a tree. I saw vines of 
heavy grapes swollen with such a rich and de- 
licious juice that one would have thought it to 
be the elixir of the sun itself. 

Colors have a new significance in this light. 
Our artists should go there to get the shading 
of the different tones. From gazing at these 
green lawns they could reproduce a new green; 
they could get azure and sapphire blue from the 
transparency of the sky and the wings of the 
birds; they could find verrnillion in the heart of 
the roses bleeding like an open wound, and could 
take gold and purple from the magnificence of 
the sunsets. Oh, these sunsets on the Californian 
beach ! While the last rays fell from the moun- 
tain like flows of lava, a sea breeze, ladened with 
the perfume of seaweed and flowers, penetrated 
under the palms. In the distance, in the soft 
atmosphere, the drawling melopceia of a singer 
mingled with the cries of the pelicans. 

I went up to Prince Leopold who was leaning 
against a palm tree contemplating the mountain 
whose outline was already drowned in darkness. 


He looked at me with that melancholy and dream- 
like look which is characteristic of him, and 

"It is not three days that I should like to stay 
here but three months, and then still longer." 

This charming spot is not the only one of its 
kind. There are others like it all along the coast, 
crouching low in each bend of the mountains. 
Santa Barbara is thus repeated a thousand times. 
All of these oases together constitute the charm 
and incomparable beauty of the Californian 

It is also on the borders of California that the 
Yosemite National Park is situated in the range 
of the Sierra Nevada. The Sovereigns and their 
suite spent two days in this garden whose area 
is equal to half of that of Belgium. The Yosemite 
is famous all over America for the richness of its 
vegetation and the beauty of its scenery. 

Trees of every sort grow there, from the sugar 
pine to flowering trees and tall bushes. But 
the most extraordinary variety is that of the 
Sequoia Gigantea, whose average height is 
three hundred feet. The King placed his hand 
on one of those trees, the Grizzly Giant, which 


has the extraordinary circumference of one hun- 
dred feet. Its diameter reaches almost thirty 
feet ; its main branch, two hundred feet above the 
ground, is seven feet thick, and its height three 
hundred feet, about three times- as high as the 
Column du Congrds at Brussels. 

The hollow trunks of some of these trees f orm 
veritable caverns. You can go through them on 
horseback or in an automobile; you could give 
a dinner of twenty around a table in one of 
them. The colossal giants are often no further 
apart than nine or ten feet; it seems as if they 
were trying to strangle each other with their 
great arms. Here, as everywhere else in Ameri- 
ca, in the forests as well as the cities, was the 
savage picture of the struggle for existence. 

But the remarkable thing is the age of these 
giants, which date back several thousand years. 
Contemporaries of Moses, they were old when 
Borne was young, 

The King was presented with some seeds of 
the Sequoia Gigantea. He took them smiling 
and said: 

"I will plant them in my park at Brussels and 
I will go and see the result some five thousand 
years from 


The magnificence of the Yosemite lies also in 
its rocks. Some of them, 5,000 feet high, rise 
towering over the valley. In some places cata- 
racts fall from these heights. One of these is the 
Bridal Veil Palls, thus named because the water 
while falling is blown about by the wind so that 
it resembles a white veil. The rocks, moreover, 
form one of the most beautiful aspects of pic- 
turesque America. They are found everywhere. 
It would seem that following the changes of the 
sky below which they lie dreaming and the cli- 
mate with which they are blessed, they take other 
forms, express a different poetry and that even 
their soul changes. My eminent colleague, Mr. 
Arthur De Rudder, has written some very beau- 
tiful lines about the rocks of America which I 
will quote here: 

"The rock. Who can tell us of its tragic beauty? 
The magnificence of the trees, the charm of rivers, 
the softness of hills have often been praised. Who 
can make us understand and love the powerful 
majesty and wild grandeur of rocks / They live for 
centuries without moving and we cannot believe that 
they are insensible because they seem to us to be the 
very body of the earth, to represent its poetic and 
lyric quality and its faith which soars up towards the 

"I believe indeed that North America has the most 
beautiful rocks in the world. They were not wrong 


in calling the spinal dorsal -which crosses the conti- 
nent the Kocky Mountains. There are numberless 
crags scattered on their wooded summits, on the top 
of their plateaux, in the bottom of their valleys. 
Many of them have strange and imposing forms; there 
are some like those of Utah, which rise with a single 
dart as if they had burst forth straight from the 
center of the earth ; there are others like those of the 
Grand Canyon, which are arranged in battle forma- 
tion, heaped together and piled on top of each other 
like gigantic walls built as if to erect the most fabu- 
lous palace that could ever be conceived by poet's 
imagination. There are some whose ridges are like 
needles, and still others isolated in the high plains 
raise their phantom-like peaks in vast and unknown 
spaces of which we had never dreamed, for with what 
dreams, legends or poems could our Europe, the 
creator of gentleness or horror, have showered the 
spectral rocks of Nebraska? But perhaps imposing 
imposing of all rise in the Valley of the Yosemite, for 
example, the Two Sisters, the Cathedral Towers, or 
that extraordinary Captain who raises his heavy and 
dominating form more than seven hundred feet above 
the ground. 

"There are some in New Mexico which resemble 
tall spires and towers; there are some which one 
would think lost or left there in the great red deserts 
of Arizona by some giant or absent-minded god. 
They have tints of emerald, ruby and sapphire. They 
reflect all the colors of earth and sky, but red pre- 
dominates, and they still bear traces of that internal 
fire which gave them birth. Dawn, noon and evening 
light them up, gild them with the thousand lights of 
day, while night extinguishes them like great 

To return to our excursion in the Yosemite 
Valley, I "will mention a charming little trait 0f 


Queen Elizabeth's character which I noticed in 
the course of this visit and which again shows 
the generosity of her nature which has become 
so well known. Perhaps it is a little trait, but 
is it not in little things that the character is best 

Not far from the lion's cage, the story of 
which I have already told, were some fish ponds 
where young trout were being raised in troughs 
fed with running water. The Queen was leaning 
over the edge, amusing herself by looking at the 
thousands of little fishes swarming there when 
she suddenly saw one of them caught on a twig 
by one of its fins. The little animal was strug- 
gling in vain to free itself. Seeing this, Prince 
Leopold took a stick and stuck it in the water. 
But his mother stopped him. 

"Look out," she said, "you will hurt him. 11 ' 
"But then, how do you want me to do it?" 
Without answering, the Queen slowly took off 
her gloves. Then, rolling up her sleeve, plunged 
her arm into the icy water and loosened the little 
fish with infinite care. 

It is also near this fish pond that I witnessed 
an amusing scene where Queen Elizabeth tried 
to take a photograph of a little Indian ten or 


twelve years old, a pure offspring of that red- 
skinned race with long, dark hair and eyes of 
fire. The child had a superstitious terror of the 
eye of the strange instrument which was turned 
on him. What sorcery was lying in wait for him 
in that box? As ho obstinately turned his back 
on the Queen, she asked one of the ladies of her 
suite to place herself opposite with another cam- 
era to catch the boy between two fires in this 
manner. But no sooner did the rascal under- 
stand the plan than he frustrated it by taking 
refuge behind a tree trunk. The Queen imme- 
diately asked us to surround the tree. This time 
the Indian did not seem able to escape any long- 
er from the lenses surrounding him, when sud- 
denly with the agility of a squirrel, he jumped 
at the trunk, climbed up it with his hands, legs 
and feet, and in less time than it takes to say it, 
disappeared in the thick foliage. 

On horseback along lit tie paths cut in the rock 
itself on the side of dizzy precipices, our Sov- 
ereigns and their suite reached the summit of 
the glacier mountain, where we were to spend 
the night. Here we saw one of those wonderful 
sunsets peculiar to California. Sky and earth 
were suddenly tinted with blood as if by the wand 


of a magician. But the twilight did not last long, 
and the next moment night had fallen. Five 
thousand feet below us in the valley at our feet, 
we saw the houses light up one by one. The stars 
seemed to shine beneath us as well as above. Then 
some cowboys came and set fire to a pile of wood 
on the edge of the rock. When the flames started 
to hiss they pushed the burning logs over the 
precipice into the empty void, and the cataract 
of fire, bounding from rock to rock, sent a flash of 
yellow light into the depths of the valley. 

The inhabitants of California, that legendary 
country, are strong and healthy, a beautiful race 
with black eyes and glowing tanned skin. When 
they are not working they ride in their motors, 
for many cars in that distant land glide in the 
shade of the palins. Young women, sometimes 
very young women, are at tlio wheel, driving 
alone or with their friends. 

I trust I may be allowed to tell a personal 
anecdote which, however, throws light on the 
character of American manners and customs. 

One afternoon when I was walking alone in 
the suburbs of Santa Barbara, one of those 
motors driven by a young girl all alone, one of 
the flowers of health and freshness of which Gal- 


ifornia boasts, stopped at my side. The charm- 
ing driver addressed me : "You are all alone, sir. 
Won't you get in the car and let me drive you 

Would others have thought as I did, or was 
it conceit on my part, but 1 remember seeing in 
this gesture only u gracious greeting. After all, 
the adventure was charming. 1 took my seat 
next to the pretty Culifornian. 

What do you suppose that lovely girl talked 
to me about from the corner of the road where 
she had picked me up all the way back to my 
hotel? She talked to me of her biceps! Yes, 
really, of her biceps, which she had acquired by 
taking regular exercise. As 1 could not help 
smiling, she thought that I did not believe her. 
I can still see her holding on to the steering 
wheel with one hand and offering me her arm. 
"But feel, sir; just feel!" 

I found myself face to face with one of those 
real daughters of America, loving physical exer- 
cise above everything else and cultivating it pas- 
sionately. As she explained to me, she rode 
horseback every morning from nine to eleven, and 
then played tennis. After lunch she drove 
around in her car and then had tea. And many 


of her sisters of American aristocracy do the 
same thing I mean of middle-western and far- 
western aristocracy. It is to this out-of-door life 
that these women, it seems, owe the conservation 
of their bright coloring and youthful grace at 
the age of forty or fifty. I saw women of sixty 
and seventy with white hair whose cheeks still 
kept their youthful coloring and whose foreheads 
were not wrinkled. It is true that American 
women, who have less keen feelings, do not know 
those moral torments, those crises and those 
thousand painful shadows which cross the lives 
of European women and make them grow old. 
Being less delicate, they suil'er less as they also 
rejoice less. 

What also conserves that physical integrity 
for them in spite of their years is to a large 
extent the purity of their morals. To the Ameri- 
can girl, man is a comrade. No embarrassment, 
no false modesty restrains her when she is with 
him. She joins in his games, walks with him, 
accompanies him to the theater. In order to 
know each other well, some engaged couples even 
travel together before they are married. They 
never have the slightest idea that there could be 
anything wrong in this intimacy. On the beaches 


young men and girls go in bathing together in 
crowds. When they come out of the water they 
lie on the sand basking in the sun. They play 
there for a long while side by side, looking at 
each other and laughing, laughing especially. 
The women laugh a great deal for the pleasure of 
laughing and showing their teeth, which are very 
beautiful. And those young men never take ad- 
vantage of such situations. They do not even 
seem to be tempted. It is a matter of tempera- 
ment, you may say. Perhaps, but it is also a 
matter of education. From their earliest infancy, 
boys and girls have rubbed up against each other 

on the school benches. For this mixture of the 


two sexes in the schools is another American 
peculiarity. The little boy's mother has previous- 
ly taught him this lesson: "You are going to 
school. You will meet little girls there. You 
must protect them because they are weaker than 
you are." 

This precept of the mother to her small son 
forms the man's ideas throughout the whole of 
his life. The American man respects woman 
because he regards himself as her protector. He 
knows that she is weaker than he, and because 
of the nobility of his feelings thinks that it would 


be odious to try to take advantage of her. It is 
this feeling of the protection due to the weak 
which roused these people in our behalf in this 
war and made them hurl themselves into the 
torture. It is because of this quality that the 
American people, whatever else may be said 
about them, are one of (lie most civilized races 
in the world. 

Nevertheless, one must not judge American 
morals by the attitude of some of the troops who 
caroused around our streets and boulevards after 
the armistice. I hope that I will not give rise 
to any objections by saying that in my country 
we did not see that courtesy and noble respect 
with which men treat women in America. But, 
after all, can one judge a people by their be- 
havior abroad, especially during the confusion 
of a war? Would we admit of being judged in 
England and France by our refugees alone? The 
answer lies not in this but in the fact that the 
American man, accustomed to so much real sin- 
cerity in the modesty of women at home, was 
startled when he went abroad. The alluring 
manoeuvres and all the knowing arts of entice- 
ment which he was in no way armed to meet 


stunned and intoxicated him. Between the boule- 
vards of New York and those of Paris, London 
or Brussels, there is the same difference that 
exists between a river with clear water and a 
malarial marsh. I am not exaggerating. Those 
who have frequented both boulevards will vouch 
for it. On the "George Washington," a young 
officer of the marines who regularly made the 
journey between New York and Brest, confided 
to me his preference for the calls at the French 
port, because there, he added with significant 
mimicry, the women are more "amusing." That 
young officer was probably an excellent fellow at 
home and a scamp abroad. Whose fault is it? 
That of the women. A long while ago the Prince 
of Ligne wrote: "In every country the men 
make the laws and the women make the morals." 

The American woman likes to adorn herself 
and dress luxuriantly. Whatever one may 
say, she dresses well. The fashion of wearing 
decollete is very popular over there. I have often 
noticed in Europe that the more a woman tries 
to dress up the more she takes oif. This is equal- 
ly true in America. 

Still, if I may be forgiven for going back to it, 


the American woman is not coquettish. Paul 
Bourget, who has studied her behavior, gives 
these words of a French woman in contrast : 

"I have never dressed for a ball without know- 
ing for whom I was going." 

The American woman dresses in order to be 
beautiful, but beautiful for her own sake, be- 
cause she is well made and because she thinks 
that what is well made should be well dressed. 
Love does not occupy much space in the life of the 
American woman. She certainly thinks about 
it less than her European sisters. Her emotions 
are less fragile. Perhaps one of the causes of 
this lies in that physical energy which she im- 
poses on herself through exercise. As a young 
girl she shows no haste in getting married. This 
condition, moreover, does not seem in the least 
enviable to her. When married she will lose 
that constant homage, that discreet and respect- 
ful solicitation with which men over there sur- 
round a young girl. They will pay less atten- 
tion to her because in the United States it is 
commonly considered that a married woman be- 
longs to her husband. Marriage, moreover, 
means to the young ghi the loss of her freedom. 
Up till then she has lived a life of absolute free- 


dom do not talk to me of family life or paren- 
tal authority; all that so seldom exists! when 
married, she will give herself a master. In order 
to make up for the sacrifice she has made for 
him, this master will often think that the least he 
can do is to work like a slave for her all his life. 



WHEN the three days of rest in the oasis 
of Santa Barbara were over, the King 
resumed his journey through the United States 
and came back towards the Atlantic. Once again 
he crossed the great expanse of the New World. 
Up to the arrival of our Sovereigns in California, 
the speed of their journey had been extraordi- 
nary. But from the time we left Santa Barbara 
to the day we reached Washington, it was a mad 
race. The halts on this return were marked 
chiefly by visits to cities. Every morning we 
arrived in one of these great centers with all the 
ceremony of an official visit. 

At about nine o'clock the King would leave his 
train. He would be received by delegates, and 
would then proceed through the city with his 
suite. He would go to greet the municipality, 
visit the principal monuments and factories, 
have the important people presented to him, and 



see those who had done things for Belgium dur- 
ing the war and thank them, etc. This strenuous 
activity lasted all day long, and then at night the 
King returned to his train and was carried off 
at break-neck speed to another city, where he 
spent the next day in his usual round of duties. 
I shall not tell of the wild enthusiasm and 
feverish ovations witli which the very generous 
American people greeted our Sovereign in every 
one of these cities. These detailed descriptions 
would be too tiresome and boring. I must, how- 
ever, mention a few of the novel features which 
struck me in some of the cities, either in their 
customs, their picturesque aspect or their in- 
dustrial situation. * 

San Francisco 

After leaving Santa Barbara, our Sovereigns 
went to San Francisco. What a contrast to the 
peaceful spot they had just left was presented 
by the frantic commotion and tumult of the 
great Calif ornian port ! The immense expansion 
of that city, which was originally founded by a 
handful of adventurers in quest of gold mines, 
is well known. As in New York, though it is 


even more marked here, one meets members of 
every race crowding each other on the sidewalks : 
Germans almost as numerous as Americans, and 
Irish, French, Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, 
Filipinos and Kanakas. I also felt that fever- 
ish life, that inconceivable energy of ceaseless 
work that characterizes New York. Before see- 
ing the end of the royal retinue, the passers-by 
who had gathered together to greet the King 
went on with their rush of activities. They are 
blind to anything outside of their own interests. 
They are thinking of the things they have to do 
and of the success of their business. No sooner 
do they catch sight of a new business idea than 
they run after it. 

"But when do these people live?" some one ex- 
claimed on witnessing this spectacle. "What 
time have they for dreaming, living, or even 

For the American does not know how to live 
in the philosophic sense of the word. He does 
not know how to collect his thoughts, to com- 
mune with himself and become stirred by in- 
ward contemplation. He is especially ignorant 
of how to stop in the midst of a sensation, to 
consider himself as a feeling and living indi- 


vidual. He never thinks: "I rejoice now, I am 
happy." He does not know that refinement 
which consists in analyzing his happiness, in 
dissecting it to appreciate it better in all of its 
phases. He seeks that happiness "en bloc," all 
at once. But when he has attained it, he does 
not taste its full flavor because he thinks only 
of increasing it. And in order to increase it he 
sets off at full speed, rushing to new sensations, 
burning away his life, wasting his days, and al- 
ways repeating that time is money. 

Time is indeed money, but is not this value of 
time better appreciated by those who know how 
to stop to look at it ajid see themselves living in 
it? Having been warned of its brevity, they get 
the best that they can from it in an epicureanism 
of good alloy. Wisdom does not belong to the 
business men who think that time is money; it 
belongs to the philosophers, thinkers, dreamers, 
poets and all those who consider time to be life. 
In the United States people grow old without 

The King and his suite visited San Francisco 
by motor and made the tour of its magnificent 
bay. The splendor and richness of that immense 


harbor are famous. The great bare mountains 
which surround it remind one of the shores of 
Greece, especially at Athens. 

We were interested in seeing the Seal Rocks 
at a stone's throw from the beach. These rocks, 
beaten by the waves, are covered with great sea 
lions which are never driven away. Some of 
them measure twelve feet and weigh a thousand 
pounds or more. In spite of the noise of the surf, 
one can clearly hear the raucous barking of these 

While passing through this city 1 was able to 
notice a small detail which on the surface does 
not seem very important, but which nevertheless 
throws light on one of the most beautiful sides 
of the American character : honesty. 

In San Francisco on the corners of the streets 
and avenues one sees letter boxes in which, as 
in Belgium, the passers-by put in their mail. 
But the peculiar thing about these letter boxes 
is that on their flat tops are placed letters and 
packages too bulky to go through the openings. 
The crowd walks by all thin exposed mail, appar- 
ently without having the slightest thought of 
taking any of it. Being curious, I went up to 


one of these boxes in order to see more closely 
of what the pile really consisted, and took hold 
of one of the parcels. Several people saw what 
I did, but nobody seemed to be worried about it. 
Not one had the slightest idea that I might be 
committing larceny. 

This honesty is shown in other ways also. It 
is found at the doors of some museums and stores 
where books of different values are exposed. A 
placard gives the respective prices: $1.00, $1,50, 
$2.00, etc. The cashier is represented by a tray 
left there. In my country many would certainly 
go off with a two-dollar book and only entrust 

a dollar or less to the blind tray. But it is quite 


the contrary with Yankee honesty. 

I could give many more examples of this, men- 
tioning the news-stand dealers who leave their 
counters on the street corner, trusting the buyers 
to fling their change, and those automobiles 
which are left all night long in the street in front 
of the door. But what difference does any other 
evidence make? Does not this confidence which 
they have in one another reveal the profound in- 
tegrity of these people, a loyalty of spirit which 
is in the very blood of the race? 


An American to whom I expressed my admira- 
tion of the honesty of his people answered me 
whimsically : 

"Sir, the American people never steal on a 
small scale!" 

I have often been struck in America, and es- 
pecially in San Francisco, by the diversity of 
the merchandise sold in the department stores 
and shops. In Belgium each store sells one arti- 
cle exclusively. In the United States this is 
rarely the case. The type of store which one 
most frequently sees is that which accumulates 
in its show-window books, post-cards, soap, al- 
monds, cigars, chewing gum and kodaks. More- 
over, the importance of a store seems to depend 
on the diversity of goods it displays. I visited 
one of these curious establishments in New York. 
If some customer had gone in there naked, he 
could have come out completely clothed, with 
shoes on, his hair done, and laden with provisions 
in abundance and theater tickets. I remember 
that it was possible to buy land and houses there. 
Cradles and hearses were on sale. 

In the large stores, moreover, you can have 
your shoes shined. The negro bootblack is there 
watching the customer and ready to precipitate 


himself at his feet at the slightest motion. This 
same negro lies in wait for you at all the street 
corners, in all the barber shops, at all soda foun- 
tains and other public places. This is because 
they do not clean shoes in the American hotels. 
I am only mentioning this detail, which might 
otherwise seem childish, because it is one of the 
first indications of the lack of real comfort in 
the United States. Indeed, this American com- 
fort which has been so praised is much more ap- 
parent than real. It lacks two elements without 
which it seems it cannot exist: refinement of 
manners and customs and domestic service. I 
have already spoken of the customs. As for serv- 
ice, it is more rare in the United States than in 
any other country. Is not that intention of 
every workman to become independent and every 
servant to become his own master a result of 
carrying democracy to an excess? One of the 
attaches of the embassy at Washington who lived 
in an apartment confided to me that he had to go 
to a tailor to have a button sewed on his trousers. 
In Belgium we complain of the lack of servants. 
The crisis in the United States is much more 
serious. Servants have such unreasonable de- 
mands that many people find it more advanta- 


geous to live permanently in a hotel. It is this 
scarcity of labor that causes those mechanical 
devices to be multiplied everywhere in which the 
ignorant foreigner sees the mark of supreme com- 

In the conglomeration of articles which are 
piled up in the shop windows one notices books 
especially, as I have said before: Books are 
found everywhere in America. As they are 
shown behind glass in the stores, so they are 
spread out on the news-stands of the streets and 
parks. Many individuals have their own libra- 
ries at home. Still the American reads little. 
He has not time. But he likes to surround him- 
self with books because a book is an idea and 
he reverences ideas. Although he is not an ideolo- 
gist, he is a fanatic on the subject of ideas. A 
young people, they have not that exquisite in- 
tellectualism which runs through our Latin 
races. But they are anxious to acquire it and 
strive to reach it. This effort is assuredly praise- 

Most of the books sold in public booths are 
novels. Not that literature of the gutter which 
floods our boulevards, but honest rosewater and 
barleysugar prose. One could transport the 


whole stock of a dealer in second-hand books into 
the library of a girls' boarding-school with per- 
fect safety. There are many detective stories and 
tales of amusing exploits among these novels. 

One may well be astonished at the great num- 
ber of historical studies published by American 
authors. They have no real history any more 
than they have a real intellectualism, because 
all their political life dates only from the Revo- 
lution at the end of the 18th century. Never- 
theless, they aspire to the latter with the same 
ardor that they desire the former. They want 
to discover a history for themselves at all haz- 
ards. Let us hope, for the sake of their happi- 
ness and prosperity, that they will never have 

As the Americans have no history, so they 
have no traditions. It is true that this deprives 
them of that poetry and nobility which make 
the old races so respectable, but it gives them, on 
the other hand, a great facility for progress. No 
habit or sacred custom hinders their improve- 
ment. Make way for the young! Nowhere else 
as in America is this formula in order. Away 
with obsolete systems! No more autocracy of 
the past generation ! It is the spirit of initiative, 


energy and decision which governs them. Doubt- 
less these customs cannot help overtaking us in 
Europe though we have in our hearts a venera- 
tion for our ancestors and a love of old rites. 
But this does not prevent a little Americanism 
from being of use to us. What advantages would 
we not gain from freeing ourselves from some of 
our old customs! Was it not against this tyran- 
ny of conventions that Chamfort rebelled when 
he cried out : 

"The most absurd habits and most ridiculous 
etiquette exist in France and elsewhere under 
the protection of this one word : custom. It is 
precisely the same word that the Hottentots give 
as an answer when they are asked why they eat 
the vermin with which they are covered." 

The King and Prince Leopold did not want 
to leave San Francisco without visiting the 
Chinese quarter. Chinatown is very picturesque 
with its curved roofs and the luxury of the silk 
tunics and pantaloons of those yellow-faced and 
flat-nosed people who look at you defiantly with 
their almond-shaped eyes as they go by, with that 
painful expression which comes from wearing 
narrow slippers which pinch their toes. 


The King was followed by several detectives 
during this visit, because it is well known that 
these Chinese quarters are of such ill repute that 
a stranger cannot venture there alone without ex- 
posing himself to danger. Our Sovereign and 
his son listened to the bizarre and discordant 
tunes which individuals with faces like sorcerers 
extracted from strange instruments. They pene- 
trated one of those famous Joss Houses, temples 
where little packages scented with incense are 
given out and where Orientals come to ask their 
god for a remedy which will cure them. 

They nevertheless did not visit any opium den 
because the heavy tax which the American gov- 
ernment has put on this product has reduced its 
consumption. The King visited a Chinese theater 
but was unable to attend a performance since 
he only had one day to spend in San Francisco 
and a Chinese play often lasts several days, 
sometimes several weeks. 

Los Angeles 

From San Francisco our Sovereigns went down 
the Pacific coast and reached Los Angeles, right- 
ly called the Nice of America. This charming 


city of sun and light, covered with flowers, lies 
softly on the slope of a mountain bathing its feet 
in the waves of a blue ocean. But the visit of 
our Sovereigns was brief. They hardly devoted 
more than a couple of hours to Los Angeles, 
but were carried away in their motors amid the 
cheers of a zealous and generous people to the 
"Cinema Kingdom" situated near by. 

This "Cinema Kingdom" on the outskirts of 
Los Angeles belongs to a stupendously rich 
American company and is surely one of the curi- 
osities of the world. Imagine a huge park pro- 
tected by a belt of metal trellis. The traveler 
w r ho had not been warned and who crossed the 
barrier of the enclosure would think that he was 
walking in a dream. Here on the right were 
mosques with their minarets, and the white, 
irregular walls of on Oriental city; on the left, 
on the top of a hill, lay an ancient mediseval 
castle with its towers like sentry-boxes, its walls, 
its drawbridges, its battlements, its forts, its 
outworks; in front windmills were turning and 
the neat houses of a Dutch village lay dreaming 
in the sun. Thus at every step another corner 
of the earth rose before our eyes or a lost age 
came to life again. In the midst of all this 


scenery men and women In costume were acting 
scenes which moving-picture machines recorded. 

Here was a modern drawing-room where a 
handsome young man was making love to a pret- 
ty girl, when a rival suddenly rushed in and 
carried on a scene of violent jealousy with the 
young couple. And here was the engine room 
of a submarine in which officers and sailors, 
asphyxiated through lack of air, were dying a 
horrible death. 

All this scenery is of wood and painted card- 
board. One can imagine the enormous cost of 
this gigantic establishment which extends over 
more than two hundred acres. But they assured 
us that its profit was considerable. The radiant 
light of California is particularly favorable for 
this kind of enterprise. 

One knows the vogue which His Majesty the 
Cinema enjoys with us. It is nevertheless en- 
tirely out of proportion compared with that in 
the United States. It is a popular passion over 
there. In the large towns there is hardly a street 
which does not own a moving-picture theater. 
Some movie stars have a fame which far sur- 
passes that of our best artists. Who has not 
heard of the famous Charlie, celebrated for his 


farces and buffooneries, and whose reputation 
has spread as far as the old world? Different 
companies fight with gold for the services of one 
of these movie stars. One of our newspapers 
recently announced that this idol had just signed 
a contract guaranteeing him a million dollars 
for turning out eight pictures. A million dol- 
lars! That is to say, according to exchange be- 
fore the war, a little more than five million 
francs, and today actually thirteen or fourteen 
million ! A mere trifle ! 

The same newspaper said that a certain 
"Fatty" had signed a contract for three years 
bringing him in three millions. The actor agreed 
to play eight two-act films a year. Here is a 
gentleman who in the space of three years will 
earn a fortune of thirty million francs in our 
currency. It is bewildering, to say the least. 

In finishing this sketch of the movie fever in 
the United States, I must add that in Los Angeles 
the children in the schools make their films them- 
selves. They reproduce their sports and their 
associations and write scenarios. They give 
weekly performances with their own machines in 
the assembly hall of the school where their 
parents, filled with pride and emotion, come to 


admire the talent of their offspring. In order 
to combine the useful with the agreeable, edu- 
cational films are also shown. 

The Grand Canyon. The Red-Skins 

And now our Sovereigns, having at last left 
the wonders of California, started east again. 
Crossing Arizona, they stopped for a few hours 
at the Grand Canyon, which is undoubtedly one 
of the most extraordinary curiosities of the pic- 
turesque world. In spite of the fact that by its 
depth and the steepness of its perpendicular 
slopes this valley reminded us of the Yosemite, 
it cannot be compared with it. Its red cliffs on 
which no vegetation grows and its rocky depths 
through which runs a muddy stream give it an 
entirely different aspect. It is like an immense 
caldron of brick-colored copper, fourteen miles 
in width. It is an extraordinary phenomenon, 
this enormous hole which is not the result of 
eruption and upheaval, but of a slow depression 
of the earth worn away by subterranean streams. 

Three Indian tribes live on the edges of the 

Grand Canyon. They organized dances in honor 

of the King. A great yellow monster whose face 


was streaked with many colors and whose body 
was covered with feathers, gesticulated for sev- 
eral minutes, uttering guttural cries and waving 
a spear and shield over his head. 

The most interesting dance, however, was with- 
out doubt the "Dance of Tears." A handful of 
men just like the first in their grotesque make- 
up ran around in a circle single file, singing a 
vague sort of dirge. After a quarter of an hour 
this race became frenzied and painful. The danc- 
ers were completely out of breath. Nevertheless, 
they went on stamping and wailing. Then their 
chant began to resemble groans, cries and sobs 
as a result of their exhaustion. It was the 
"Dance of Tears" in all its glory. 

After it was over the King summoned the chief 
of the dance to him and pinned a medal on his 
breast which was beating like a bird's wing. 
Sekakuku that was his name opened his 
mouth (it is true that he was so out of breath 
that he could hardly close it) at the sight of this 
beautiful red ribbon and this medal which was 
shining so brightly. Then he went off to carry 
his new fetich to the men of his tribe who con- 
gratulated him, lifting up their arms to the sky. 

How proud he was, that chief of the dance ! 


The King's Mail 

In the United States the railroad is not pro- 
tected from the public by hedges and fences as 
it is in Europe. It passes through small towns 
and villages in the open. The train slows up in 
these places and warns the passers-by by means 
of a great bell on the engine. Every time the 
train stopped the crowd wouJd surround the 
King's car and gaze at it. When our Sovereign 
showed himself on the observation platform with 
the Queen, he was greeted by shouts and cheers. 
The men would put out their hands in order to 

reach that of the gallant King, while the women 


lifted their children up towards the Queen hop- 
ing that she might be gracious enough to pet 
them, and our Sovereigns never failed to respond. 
At each one of these stops numerous letters 
were delivered on board the train. Most of them 
came from people living in the country and were 
addressed to the King and Queen. Some of these 
offered them money, others asked for it. One of 
them was a request from a man who was in prison 
in New Hampshire for killing his wife. He 
begged for his release for a few weeks so that he 
could go to see his old mother who lived in Bel- 


gium. The King communicated this request to 
the consul at Washington. 

But generally these letters contained welcom- 
ing messages. Some were charming in their 
naivet6. I must quote one which I have here 
right in front of me, written in pencil in a child's 
handwriting and signed "Edith." Edith prob- 
ably thought that Her Majesty was called 
"Queen" as well as "Elizabeth," because this is 
the way she began : 

"Dear Madam Queen : 

"I am a little American girl. I go to a school 
on a mountain covered with pines. I heard that 
you were going to Washington. I hope that you 
will also come to see me in my school. I know 
a great many things and I will tell them to you. 
I helped to make clothes for the Belgian chil- 
dren during the war. I prayed for you a lot. 
My sister prayed too. I have never been to Wash- 
ington. I am ten years old. My sister is eight. 

The journey was lightened with charming epi- 
sodes of this sort, while our Sovereigns crossed 


New Mexico and Kansas and reached St. Louis, 
the great city of Missouri. 

St. Louis 

The generous sympathy given to our country 
during the war by the beautiful city of Missouri 
is well known. Its aldermen made a special de- 
cision that for six weeks all the factories of the 
city (and one must see the factories of St. Louis 
in order to get an idea of their colossal output) 
should be operated solely in the manufacture of 
clothing for the Belgian people. St. Louis was 
able to tell our Sovereign with pride that of all 
the cities of the United States it had sent the 
largest amount of clothing to "Belgium. 

St. Louis, the rival of Chicago in the meat 
packing industry, was founded, like many other 
cities in the United States, by a handful of 
French immigrants. The names of many streets 
and families still recall that fact to-day. 

The King gazed with admiration at the gigan- 
tic bridge thrown across the Mississippi. This 
extraordinary bridge is about 6,000 feet long. It 
was built in 1869 at a cost of $20,000,000 and con- 


indomitable courage in the face of the enemy, 
firmness and far-sightedness these are the qual- 
ities which were incarnated in your illustrious 

Then the King repeated those words of Lin- 
coln after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 which 
decided the war of Secession: 

" 'It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedi- 
cated here to the unfinished work which they who 
fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.' I 
who have come to-day from a far country will 
never forget those words of 'your President. I 
can find in his example the power and firmness 
which make a leader worthy of his nation and 
cause him to devote himself to the task of prog- 
ress and idealism which great Lincoln so nobly 


Our visit to Cincinnati was among the most 
interesting of the journey. As we were told, the 
name Cincinnati was given to the great Ohio 
city because it was founded at the time of the 
War of Independence by a group of young men 
who, like the Eoman Cincinnatus, had left the 


plow to fight for the freedom of their country. 

The King made a special visit to the great 
chemical factory built during the war by Messra. 
Ault and Wiborg. The main idea of our Sov- 
ereign in inspecting these establishments was to 
pay a debt of gratitude to its directors who 
showed great generosity towards our country. 
It was with a patriotic aim that Ault and Wiborg 
started their factory. 

"The Germans have always from the very be- 
ginning had the monopoly of the manufacture 
of chemical products here," they explained to the 
King. "This gave them great power. More- 
over, we wanted to take this power away from 
them. And we can say that after the efforts 
of two years we succeeded, for here is a factory 
which to-day rivals theirs." 

The directors pointed with legitimate pride to 
their establishment, which extends over a large 
area in the very heart of Cincinnati. The King 
went through some of the buildings which were 
filled with strong chemical odors. He leaned 
over gigantic vats at the bottom of which bitter 
liquids were boiling whose fumes made one's eyes 
fill with tears. He noticed the "dyeing presses," 
from which flowed rivers of colored ink. 


It may perhaps be of interest to know that 
the annual production of the Ault and Wiborg 
factory is six million pounds of cloth and paper 
dyes, and eight million pounds of printers' ink. 

At the very end, the visit to the family mansion 
of former President Taft, with its wonderful col- 
lection of pictures and works of art, was full of 
interest and charm. This time the atmosphere 
of the place was not ruined, as it was in the house 
of Lincoln, by the anachronism of a victrola 
playing our national anthem and by modern 
colored prints. 

Going through the halls and rooms of this 
luxurious house, our Sovereigns were able to ad- 
mire the works of masters of all the European 
schools. Arranged with exquisite taste were 
paintings by Van Dyck, liembrandt, Jean Steen, 
Marys, Terburg, Frans Hals, Corot, Dupre, 
Daubigny, and also by representatives of the 
English school Gainsborough, Turner, Con- 
stable and Lawrence. 

We were struck by the kindness and sustained 
attention with which the King studied these pic- 
tures. Again and again he expressed his ad- 
miration. Our Sovereign, as is well known, takes 


the greatest interest in the progress of the arts. 
During this journey in the United States he gave 
frequent proofs of it. Thus while visiting the 
Carnegie Institute at Pittsburg a few days later, 
he asked for many details about its contents. 
This institute was founded by the steel king with 
a view to encouraging the arts and sciences. 
Built in 1892 in the style of the Italian Kenais- 
sance, it cost its generous Maecenas more than a 
million dollars. 

I must mention in this connection that one 
frequently comes across museums, libraries and 
universities founded by the bequests of great mil- 
lionaires in the United States. These donors 
act according to the idea that since they have 
accumulated a great fortune from society, they 
owe something to it in return. Honce, it is their 
love of art and intellectual} sm that determines 
the form of their gift. We must also beware of 
making fun of the Americans in the realm of art 
and ideas, for they have a sentiment which, 
though less erudite, is perhaps more beautiful 
and generous than ours. Aside from the rarest 
exceptions, where are our Maecenases who 
patronize art, science and literature? Where 


are the Harvards and Carnegies who found, or 
only vie with each other in founding, universities 
and museums? 

But since I am speaking of American art, I 
may be allowed to insert a little parenthesis here. 
Is there a real American art? No, answers 
ancient Europe mercilessly. It is a fact that dur- 
ing our trip through America we did not see any- 
where a monument that showed a really national 
art. Moreover, these people and this is a curi- 
ous observation do not give the impression of 
being artistic because they are too strong, too 
vigorous, too healthy, and also because their dol- 
lars ring too clearly and shine too frankly. Is 
there not need for more refinement, more deli- 
cacy, more tenuity, so to speak, to acquire that 
sub til ty of taste which creates true art? 

Paul Bourget, who has studied the Americans 
in this respect, has made fua of them: "The 
only art they have is what they have taken 
from us." And again, speaking of one of their 
picture galleries where he noticed the portrait 
of Napoleon, he cites with double malice this 
saying of one who did not love them : "Yes, they 
have the portrait of the great Emperor, but 
where is that of their grandfather?" 


It is nevertheless true that if the Americans 
up till now have not had a real creative ability, 
neither have they had one which is antagonistic 
to art. Nowhere during his journey in the deco- 
ration of public buildings or private residences 
did the King meet with a single mistake in taste, 
or an injury to the aesthetic sense which one sees 
at every step in stolid Germany. And, what is 
even better, these people carry good taste into 
the architecture of their houses and into their 
interiors, creating a very simple style which is 
not overloaded, and which has no studied re- 
finement except that of line. Would our archi- 
tects succeed in building 1 sky-scrapers in the 
middle of a city which would not be elephantine? 
But in America they erect buildings of forty 
or fifty stories which, far from being heavy, are 
slender and graceful. 

Even if the Americans have not yet an art, 
they have good taste and aesthetic sense which 
seem to me to be ite precursors. During his visit 
to Cincinnati, the King confided to the violinist 
Ysaye : "I believe that in about fifty years Amer- 
ica will be the first country in the world in the 
realm of art and literature as well as in that of 
economics." Perhaps our Sovereign was a little 


optimistic in giving America such a short period 
of delay. The country seems too young to have 
the maturity which is indispensable to an artistic 
people. But I believe that there will come a day 
when, following the call of genius, American art, 
latent to-day, will suddenly blossom forth and 
develop with that formidable energy and feverish 
progress characteristic of the American spirit. 
Who knows but that the old world in a century 
or two, after the groping of pioneers, may not see 
rising out of America one of those sparkling 
pleiades who flourished in Attica as Scopas, 
Phydias and Praxiteles; in the Renaissance as 
Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Eaphael, Correggio 
and Michael Angelo, and in the Netherlands as 
Reubens, Van Dyck and Rembrandt? 

On the occasion of our visit to Cincinnati, a 
center where the German element is very large, 
some of us thought we noticed a certain coldness 
in the greeting of the inhabitants. It is only 
fair to say, however, that we were so accustomed 
to whistles and uproar that when they did not 
break our eardrums we thought that our recep- 
tion was lacking in warmth. Nevertheless, it is 


true that the foreign element Kussian, Polish, 
Scandinavian, Italian and Irish, as well as Ger- 
man forms a large part of the population of the 
United States. In order to enjoy the same privi- 
leges as native-born Americans, these immigrants 
have asked for and obtained naturalization; but 
most of them keep in their hearts a dangerous 
loyalty for their old country dangerous to the 
Union which on the occasion of a contradiction 
or conflict with one of these foreign countries 
might find serious divergencies rising within it. 
As I am writing these lines the New York 
"Herald" announces that the Foreign Eela- 
tions Committee of the Senate will shortly 
place before the government a peace resolution 
marking the refusal of the United States to rati- 
fy the Treaty of Versailles, and renouncing at 
the same time all further participation in the 
settlement of European questions. Is the spirit 
of this resolution not inspired, among other 
motives, by the necessity of pacifying certain 
elements of the population and by a desire not 
to arouse new internal susceptibilities in the 
future? It has been asserted that America was 
called to play the role of arbitrator in the world. 


For the reason that I have just mentioned, I do 
not believe that she will ever be capable of play- 
ing that rdle. 

Talking of the diversity of races in the United 
States, here are some statistics which the "Mer- 
cure of France' 3 recently took from the federal 
census of 1910 in order to comment on them. 
At that time there were seven states (and let 
us not forget that there are forty-eight in all) 
where the proportion of foreign -born citizens 
with reference to the total population was from 
25 to 30% ; fifteen states where it was from 15 
to 25% ; and six states where it was from 10 to 
15%. If one counts citizens born in the United 
States of foreign or mixed parentage, one gets 
the following figures: in thirteen states more 
than 50% of the inhabitants belong to the two 
classes mentioned above, and in eleven states 
there are from 35 to 50%. In 1910 there were 
more than thirteen million foreign-born in the 
United States, 18% of whom were Germans, 12% 
Russians, 12% Austrians and Hungarians (in- 
cluding Poles, Czechs and Slavs), 10% Irish 
and 9% British subjects. In 1910 among fifty 
cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants there 
were ten where the foreign-born citizens consti- 


tuted more than a third of the total population : 
from 33% in Detroit and 35% in Chicago up to 
40% in New York and 42% in Lowell; and in 
only fourteen of these fifty cities was half of the 
white native population native-born. 

By the help of these figures one sees the prob- 
lem in its formidable simplicity. If the immi- 
grants on arrival were immediately absorbed into 
the native population, their assimilation would 
be relatively swift. This is true among those who 
come in small crowds or who, when they arrive, 
do not find their compatriots firmly fixed in 
groups. But the German, Italian, Scandinavian, 
Bussian, Czech and Polish immigrants have es- 
tablished real foreign colonies in the large cities 
at least, where they have their quarters, their 
leaders and their newspapers. These people live 
among themselves as is very natural, and if they 
become naturalized, instead of becoming just 
plain American citizens, they become German- 
Americans, Italian- Americans, Czecho- Ameri- 
cans, etc. It is a double nationality, a hyphe- 
nated nationality, as they call it colloquially 
over there. Here is the danger, and it can weigh 
heavily on the internal and foreign policy of the 
Union. Indeed, it already weighs heavily on 


municipal elections in the great centers where 
each party tries to curry favor with the different 
nationalities by putting up candidates of every 
race. If this phenomenon is carried into the 
realm of national politics, it will be a source of 
great peril to the Union. This danger, more- 
over, has seemed imminent ever since the United 
States took part in the European war. Before 
April, 1917, the German- Americans in general 
did not hide their very natural sympathy for 
Germany; since then they remained quiet, but 
of what are they thinking? More recently, in 
May, 1919, the sensational declaration of Presi- 
dent Wilson on the Adriatic question excited the 
Italians in America in favor of Italy's claims, in 
opposition to those of their adopted country. As 
for the Irish naturalized Americans, they are 
only American in so far as it can benefit Ireland. 
As early as 1880, J. E. Lowell, American Am- 
bassador to London, complained bitterly of those 
who, coming back to their native town, carried 
on anti-British agitation under the cover of their 
new allegiance; it embarrassed and interfered 
with the actions of the ambassador. Indeed, these 
people were only Americans to the extent that 


the United States could give weight to their 


I will stop for a fleeting moment in this city, 
the third largest in the United States, to recall 
that gigantic naval yard built on the Delaware 
Eiver which our Sovereigns and their suite 
visited one beautiful autumn afternoon. In gi- 
gantic wooden frames which were arranged along 
the river-front for about a mile and a half, ships 
were being built. There were fifty boats in the 
process of construction at the same time. Every 
twenty-eight hours one of them was launched. 
The King was able to witness the launching of a 
boat at that very moment. The workmen who 
had built it were standing on its decks while 
the cables which kept it in its wooden cradle were 
cut. There was suddenly a great cracking, 
greeted by a formidable "three cheers" from all 
the spectators. And while the strains of the 
national anthem resounded in the air, the ship 
glided on its oiled ways, dipped its bow into the 
ocean, maMng a great mass of foam spurt out 


from its sides, and finally floated, a proud ruler 
of the ocean. 

In order to take the 30,000 workmen who were 
employed in this shipyard back to the city, a 
station was built from which trains black with 
men left every minute. 



IN America a city is built in the same time 
that a monument is erected in Europe," I 
exclaimed, in speaking of that prodigious city 
of Chicago, which, though only an encampment 
of a few adventurers in 1831, to-day numbers al- 
most four million souls. 

Washington is less prodigious, but neverthe- 
less in the face of that rich capital of the United 
States, that city of avenues and squares so ma- 
jestic in their outline, it is hard to think that a 
century ago it consisted only of a few farms and 
pastures on the bank of a river, the Potomac. 

The Americans call Washington the most 
beautiful city in the United States. To tell the 
truth, the stranger who goes there thus informed 
cannot help being rather disillusioned. There 
is a melancholy and almost sad air about those 
wide avenues drowned in trees and those houses 
built uniformly of red brick. This city is, more- 



over, so spread out, its arteries are so large, its 
houses so far apart from each other, and its 
parks so numerous, that it gives the appearance 
of being sparsely populated. The traveler who 
comes from imposing and vibrating New York 
thinks that he will find the capital of the United 
States the center of strenuous life and of Ameri- 
can activity, but only finds a life which in con- 
trast seems hopelessly calm and bourgeois. 

The suburbs are more beautiful than the heart 
of the city. Rich villas, palaces of white marble 
are situated there. The green lawns and dark 
box hedges which surround them give that white- 
ness a brilliant radiancy. The White House, the 
residence of President Wilson, is built in this 
style. As I have already said, the President was 
unable to receive our Sovereign officially, but the 
King nevertheless went to his host's bedside and 
had a long talk with him. 

Although a little heavy in its massive form, 
the Capitol at Washington, because of its im- 
posing proportions and the unheard-of luxury 
of its interior arrangements, is the most remark- 
able building in Washington the best in the 
world, some Americans assert, with their inno- 
cent mania for breaking records. Yes, doubtless 


the most beautiful in America, but in the world? 
. . . Uncle Sam is too fond of forgetting old 
Europe when he makes his records. I believe 
that some of the European capitols, like that 
wonder of Ionic architecture at Toulouse, eclipse 
every American capitol without doubt. Still, 
the building at Washington, with its cupola sus- 
pended at a height of three hundred feet, its 
monumental staircase and its two wings of white 
marble which are 142 feet in length, has an im- 
posing beauty. 

It is in tliis huge structure that the representa- 
tives of the American people come together to 
discuss the res publica. It was in this palace, in 
the name of this people, that homage so brilliant 
and so solemn was rendered to our King and to 
Belgium that it was really the crowning and 
apotheosis of our trip. 

From among a thousand beautiful words I 
wish to quote a few which were spoken by Sena- 
tor Cummins before the entire assembly: 

"What would have happened if Germany, after 
having crushed Europe and driven Asia into sub- 
mission, had turned her lust towards America? 
I do not know. Nobody knows. But we do know 
that a country small in its territory and in the 


number of soldiers but peerless in its loyalty 
to Christian principles and human liberty 
raised itself up before the footsteps of this mon- 
ster and in a transport of supreme sacrifice saved 
the freedom of the world. If the sons and daugh- 
ters of our race ever forget that sacrifice or re- 
member it otherwise than with gratitude and 
respect, the world which Belgium saved will be 
unworthy of its deliverance." 

It is evident in the eyes of generous America 
that it is not we who owe her gratitude, but she 
who remains our debtor. Our debtor! She who 
in our hour of distress sent us provisions across 
the ocean to keep us alive, sent us clothing to 
put on our backs, and her sons to save us ! We 
can never measure the debt of gratitude we owe 
the noble country of Washington. 

During his visit in the capital of the United 
States, the King made a point of going to Mount 
Vernon, where the remains of General George 
Washington are buried. Mount Vernon is about 
fourteen miles from the city on the banks of the 
Potomac in the state of Virginia. 

It was on a soft late afternoon of October in 
Washington that our Sovereign embarked on 
the "Mayflower," the yacht of President Wilson 


which had been placed at the disposal of his 
guest. The yacht sailed for a long while between 
banks covered with wild forests whose foliage 
autumn had colored with bright tints of purple 
and gold. From time to time on the very edge 
of the river, the white gable of a mansion was 
reflected in the water. These are the places 
where the aristocracy of Washington come to 
spend their hours of leisure during the season. 
The air was soft and warm. Not a ripple stirred 
the water which was as smooth as a mirror. The 
yacht glided along as if in a dream. Gulls with 
great wings were flying in circles around the 
prow. From time to time a flock of wild chicks 
formed a triangle against the sky. An unseen 
orchestra which played secretly added charm to 
the hour. 

But suddenly an unexpected blare of a bugle 
called the crew on deck. At the top of a hill 
we caught sight of a white colonial mansion 
which seemed asleep behind its closed shutters. 
There it was ! The boat stopped in the middle of 
the river. While the officers and sailors stood 
at attention, and the King, his hand on his mili- 
tary cap, saluted with deep emotion, the bugles 
sent the strains of the "Hymn of Sleep" a 


melody as slow as a dirge and sad as a sob 
rolling off towards the steep banks. 

Several small boats came up to the "May- 
flower." The King and his suite disembarked 
and approached the hill, which was shaded by 
willows leaning over the water like curtains with 
long fringe. I believe I have said that America 
lacks refinement of feeling, that she ignores that 
poetry of the soul which belongs to Latin peoples. 
That night, nevertheless, in the face of certain 
manifestations of American reverence, this con- 
viction was strangely shattered. Is it not a sense 
of great tact arid delicacy which forbids visitors 
at Mount Vernon to smoke in the park which was 
formerly inhabited by the great and mourned 

The King and Queen walked in front as we 
started up the avenue which goes up the hill and 
leads to the tomb of Washington. As we went 
along the officers reminded me in a low tone of 
voice of certain episodes in the life of the "Lib- 
erator of America." How glorious was that hero 
who earned the gratitude and love of his people 
forever! In 1753, at the age of twenty-one, he 
went to notify the French who were established 
OB the Ohio Kiver to retire. As they refused, 


lie compelled them to leave by force of arms. "A 
few years later, when misunderstandings had 
arisen between England and her American colo- 
nies, Washington spoke with energy against the 
English claims. He eyen preached complete in- 
dependence for all the territory of the American 
colonies. Having been proclaimed commander- 
In-chief of the American army, in spite of the 
numerical inferiority of Ms troops and lack of 
provisions, he succeeded in driving the English 
out of Boston, their main stronghold. But the 
English, advancing towards the center, got hold 
of Philadelphia. Washington rushed to the res- 
cue and this time defeated the entire army of the 
enemy. Two years later ( 1783 ) the Peace of Ver- 
sailles forced England to recognize the inde- 
pendence of the United States. A in ancient 
days the Eoman Oincinnatus retired to his fields 
after freeing Ms fatherland, Washington then re- 
turned to Mount Vernon, where he again took up 
his life of a country gentleman. He left it once 
more, however, ^hen the United States became 
a republic, and accepted its presidency in 1789. 
He was reflected in 1793, and on the expiration 
of this term refused the power which was offered 
to him for the third time. Having definitely re- 


tired to Mount Vernon, he took pleasure in the 
gentle and peaceful joys of family life, and died 
in 1799. The whole of America mourned his 
loss and wore mourning for its liberator for a 

The King and Queen had now reached the tomb 
of Washington. It is a very simple monument, 
built according to the plan of him whose ashes 
it contains, a memorial of red stones mingled 
with the leaves of the willows. Above the gate 
which guards the crypt is this inscription: 
"Within this Enclosure Rest the Remains of Gen- 
eral George Washington." In the crypt are two 
sarcophagi of white marble. The one on the 
right is that of the president, the other that of 
his wife, Martha. 

The majesty of the spot was not broken by a 
single word. August silence reigned there, which 
it would have been irreverent to break. Every- 
body felt it, hence there were only signs. The 
King having turned back towards his suite, took 
from the hands of an officer a great wreath of 
chrysanthemums and ribbons of the Belgian 
colors on which could be read: "Albert and 
Elizabeth, King and Queen of Belgium." He 
penetrated into the crypt and, bowing his head 


reverently, placed the wreath on the tomb of 
Washington. It was an impressive sight, that 
of this King, the most beautiful and noble figure 
of modern times, bowing before the memory of 
the first president of the United States. 

The Queen and Prince entered the crypt in 
turn and bowed reverently as the King had done. 
Three wreaths were already there. The first had 
been brought by Baron Moncheur, head of the 
Belgian mission in 1917, the second by an Eng- 
lish mission that same year, and the third by 
General Joffre. 

After a short visit to the house of Washington, 
where all the furniture and belongings which he 
used during his life-time are preserved, our Sov- 
ereigns went down the hill and rembarked in 
the "Mayflower," which brought them back in the 


In conclusion I should like to make a short 
commentary on these words spoken by an Ameri- 
can about the extraordinary sympathy which was 
shown everywhere on the King's journey. 

"The King of the Belgians/' this man ex- 
claimed, "is busy conquering America." 


How true were those words ! Before the King's 
visit America loved the Belgian people, but she 
loved them as an idea because she worshiped 
the ideal of justice and it was displeasing to 
her to see the strong crush the weak. Now, in 
the footsteps of him who incarnated all the 
strength and courage of that little people, this 
love took form, became concrete, and was realized 
in the wonderful traits of the renowned visitor. 
In the eyes of America, Belgium at this minute 
means Albert I. 

Another side of this affection which arose out 
of pity before the royal visit for it was with 
this feeling particularly that America gave us 
alms is that by favor of the King's journey, in 
the face of his dignity and moral greatness, this 
pity was turned into deep esteem and venera- 
tion. No, Belgium is not a beggar who arouses 
pity by uncovering her wounds; and in the future 
America will continue to help her not as a poor 
cousin but as a very noble little sister. 

It has frequently been asked what would be 
the effect on Belgium of her King's journey to the 
United States. It would seem that these results 
should be sought rather in the realm of morals 
than in that of means. Our Sovereign did not 


go over there to transact business and make con- 
tracts, biit rather to increase the sympathy of 
the Americans towards his people. It is in this 
sympathy that material benefit will4*e derived to 
Belgian business men and manufacturers in 
knowing that it can be used in making advan- 
tageous and definite commercial relations. 
America is very well disposed to help Belgium 
in her economic reconstruction. But let us be- 
ware of degrading ourselves. Her intervention 
in the future will riot be gratuitous; the moral 
factors which moved her in the past to come to 
our rescue through pity no longer exist. She 
knows that Belgium has gained a new vitality 
and is already rising again. Statements with 
respect to this were made by the Belgian delega- 
tion which at the time of the King's journey was 
sitting at Salt Lake City under the chairman- 
ship of M. Ilankar. These statements made a 
very good impression. And it is precisely be- 
cause America is assisting our courageous efforts 
that, when she has become confident, she will be 
willing to trade with us. May we profit by these 
very favorable sentiments so that the economic 
progress of our nation will be greatly advanced. 
But if ever some call for help God preserve 


us from such a fate should be given by our 
King or one of his descendants to the great people 
on the other side of the Atlantic, there is no 
doubt that the call will be heard and that in a 
new wave of generosity powerful America will 
save Belgium a second time. 



BEFORE closing I must say a word about the 
charming visit which the King and his suite 
made at the port of Ponta del Oada on the island 
of San Miguel (Azores), while recrossing the 

When our Sovereigns left Norfolk, Virginia, 
with Europe as their destination, they had no 
plan for visiting the Azores. It was only on 
the third day of the crossing that the Queen, on 
consulting the map, noticed that the boat which 
was following a northeast coarse could bear more 
directly east without a very great detour and, 
after stopping at the Azores, could go north 
again. Our Queen's desire was law to the gallant 
captain, who immediately directed his ship to- 
wards the Portuguese islands. 

Fayenne, the first of these, appeared on the 
morning of the sixth day. It rose out of the 
ocean raising its icy peaks six thousand feet 



above the waves. The snow which covers the tops 
of these mountains enables one to appreciate 
their gigantic altitude more clearly if one realizes 
that the A&ores, being in the same latitude as 
Lisbon, ha v e an extremely hot climate. An at- 
mosphere like that of California reigns in these 
islands. The sun maintains a perpetual sum- 

All the passengers of the "George Washing- 
ton" ran up on deck to admire this gorgeous 
scene. Above the clouds clinging to the sides of 
the mountains was the dazzling brightness of 
perpetual snow below, the verdure of equatorial 
vegetation. All day long the boat sailed in and 
out of these islands, hugging the shores of forests 
filled with lemon-trees, orange- trees, date-trees, 
and palms. It \vas only on the morning of the 
next day that we arrived at San Miguel. As the 
"George Washington" drew too much water to 
come any nearer to the land, smaller boats were 
lowered to take the King and his sufte ashore. 

What a contrast and what a charming surprise 
for the eyes of travelers coming from America 
was created by this Portuguese island, lost in 
the Atlantic! What an enchantment to minds 
weary of straight lines and uniformity was pre- 


sen ted by those little winding streets, those un- 
even pavements, and those houses painted in 
lurid reds and blues! Some were covered with 
red roofs put on crookedly like bonnets. Lean- 
ing on windowsills half shaded by blinds were 
women gazing as if in a dream. Their skin was 
bronze and their hair jet black. Others passed 
through the streets clad in scarlet. Their hands 
on their hips, they carried baskets of fruit on 
their heads. Men, too, with soft felt hats, bright 
ties and dark red shirts, and now and then stu- 
dents who were recognized by their long waving 
locks and black capes which they draped about 
them like togas. All those men had their hands 
in their pockets and cigarettes in their mouths. 
They were idling about. One sees a great deal of 
idling in tropical countries. Also how many beg- 
gars were holding out their hands on all the 
corners and porches! Now and then a peddler 
passed by, leading his donkey. Baskets were 
fastened t&each side of the puck-saddle in which 
piles of bananas, pineapples, and lemons gave 
the appearance of rays of sunlight. A language 
warm as the sun and variegated as their cos- 
tumes is spoken by these people. An odor of 
moldy ale and wine was floating in the air. 


Yes, wine! American laws have no jurisdiction 
here. They drink wine at San Miguel. And 
what wine! Virgin sanchissima! You can tell 
that from their dazzling color and flaming eyes. 
Wine and sun, do they not make life worth liv- 

The King had landed secretly in the midst of 
this population, hoping to visit the city and the 
neighboring country incognito and then slip 
noiselessly away. But the people of San Miguel 
would not hear of it. They immediately recog- 
nized their guest. What joy and bursts of en- 
thusiasm went through the city! "For Dios y 
todos sus santos." By God and all the saints, 
the King of the Belgians was in San Miguel ! 

In less than two hours notices were put on all 
the walls and distributed from hand to hand 
reading: "A Camara Municipal d'esta citade 
convida o Publico em geral a associarem-se a una 
manifestacao que se realisar hoje, entre as 2 e 
meia e 3 boras da tarde, nos Caes, a S. S. Mages- 
tades os Reis de Belgica." (The Municipal Coun- 
cil of the city invites the general public to take 
part in a celebration which will take place this 
afternoon between half -past two and three on the 


wharves in honor of their Majesties, the King 
and Queen of Belgium). Certain notices added: 
"Ornementar com bandeiras os ediflcios dos seus 
estabelecimentos." (We think it proper that the 
tradespeople should adorn their shops with 
flags.) How superfluous was this last recom- 
mendation! You should have seen the shutters 
closing, the blinds being drawn and the flags 
being put out! In a few moments the city was 
decked with ribbons as if by a magician's wand. 
Those who did not have flags adorned their 
houses just the same. How? With rags, colored 
rags of any shade whatsoever, provided they were 
vivid and dazzling. How the beautiful women 
adorned themselves for the "great celebration," 
their gala dresses covered with lace and spark- 
ling jewels. I do not know if they were really 
jewels, but under the tropical sun all stones are 
gems as all rags are flags. 

At the proper hour everybody was ready. On 
the wharf from which the King was to embark a 
great crowd was swarming. They were all shak- 
ing hands and congratulating each other. "Maes 
de Deos!" They were going to see tie King of 
the Belgians! 


A hundred times their overexcited imagina- 
tions thought that he was in sight. Then they 
greeted him frantically. Then they saw that it 

was a delusion, and began to wait again. 


Finally, an automobile suddenly blew its horn 
in the distance, and the motor in which the tall 
figure of the King was recognized glided up to 
the middle of the wharf. They cried out, they 
shouted their greetings to him. A volley of shots 
rent the air; the sirens of all the boats in the 
harbor blew. For a long while the deafening 
noise lasted, the "fen du brut" of Escourbanies 
in all its glory. 

The charming part of it was that those who 
could not see the King, either because they were 
drowned in the crowd or because they found 
themselves pushed back of the barrier made by 
the others, were most moved. I caught sight of a 
fruit-peddler perched on the top of his baskets. 
I do not know if he could see the King or not. 
But suddenly as his eyes remained fixed on the 
group where the King was, he made a deep bow, 
and stretching out his arm, shook an invisible 
hand in the void, made a speech, bowed again, 
and went on speaking. At this very minute he 


is probably telling his family of the handshakes 
given him by the King of Belgium, and the 
noble words he said to him, and is shedding tears 
of joy over this glorious and beautiful recollec-